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Jean Piaget — Piaget Theory of Cognitive Development — Videos

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Human Development: Piaget’s Cognitive Theory

Piaget’s Stages of Development

Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development

Piaget’s stages of cognitive development | Processing the Environment | MCAT | Khan Academy

Piaget’s Cognitive Development

How to Remember Piaget’s Stages

How to Memorize Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development

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Jean Piaget’s Cognitive Development: Ex-Schema Me?

Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development


Piaget’s Sensorimotor Stage

Piaget’s Sensorimotor Stage

Sensorimotor Stage – 6 Substages

Piaget – Stage 2 – Preoperational – Lack of Conservation

Piaget’s Preoperational

Concrete Operations (Davidson Films, Inc.)

Child Psychology – Piaget – Concrete Operational Stage (Interview)

Piaget’s Concrete Operational Stage Questions

Formal operational stage – Intro to Psychology

formal operational child

Piaget’s Formal Operational

Piaget’s Formal Operational Stage

Formal Operational Stage Experiment

Piaget’s Formal Operational Stage

Piaget Experiment – Formal Operational Stage

Theories of Cognitive Development, including Piaget and Vygotsky pt1 Dr. Amanda Waterman

Theories of Cognitive Development, including Piaget and Vygotsky pt2 Dr. Amanda Waterman

Piaget on Piaget

The Growth of Knowledge: Crash Course Psychology #18

Monkeys and Morality: Crash Course Psychology #19

Adolescence: Crash Course Psychology #20


Piaget’s theory of cognitive development

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Piaget’s theory of cognitive development is a comprehensive theory about the nature and development of human intelligence. It was first created by the Swiss developmental psychologist Jean Piaget (1896–1980). The theory deals with the nature of knowledge itself and how humans gradually come to acquire, construct, and use it.[1] Piaget’s theory is mainly known as a developmental stage theory.

To Piaget, cognitive development was a progressive reorganization of mental processes resulting from biological maturation and environmental experience. He believed that children construct an understanding of the world around them, experience discrepancies between what they already know and what they discover in their environment, then adjust their ideas accordingly.[2] Moreover, Piaget claimed that cognitive development is at the center of the human organism, and language is contingent on knowledge and understanding acquired through cognitive development.[3] Piaget’s earlier work received the greatest attention.

Child-centered classrooms and “open education” are direct applications of Piaget’s views.[4] Despite its huge success, Piaget’s theory has some limitations that Piaget recognized himself: for example, the theory supports sharp stages rather than continuous development (décalage).[5]



Nature of intelligence: operative and figurative

Piaget noted that reality is a dynamic system of continuous change and, as such, is defined in reference to the two conditions that define dynamic systems. Specifically, he argued that reality involves transformations and states.[6] Transformations refer to all manners of changes that a thing or person can undergo. States refer to the conditions or the appearances in which things or persons can be found between transformations. For example, there might be changes in shape or form (for instance, liquids are reshaped as they are transferred from one vessel to another, and similarly humans change in their characteristics as they grow older), in size (for example, a series of coins on a table might be placed close to each other or far apart), or in placement or location in space and time (e.g., various objects or persons might be found at one place at one time and at a different place at another time). Thus, Piaget argued, if human intelligence is to be adaptive, it must have functions to represent both the transformational and the static aspects of reality.[7] He proposed that operative intelligence is responsible for the representation and manipulation of the dynamic or transformational aspects of reality, and that figurative intelligence is responsible for the representation of the static aspects of reality.[8]

Operative intelligence is the active aspect of intelligence. It involves all actions, overt or covert, undertaken in order to follow, recover, or anticipate the transformations of the objects or persons of interest.[9] Figurative intelligence is the more or less static aspect of intelligence, involving all means of representation used to retain in mind the states (i.e., successive forms, shapes, or locations) that intervene between transformations. That is, it involves perceptionimitationmental imagery, drawing, and language.[10] Therefore, the figurative aspects of intelligence derive their meaning from the operative aspects of intelligence, because states cannot exist independently of the transformations that interconnect them. Piaget stated that the figurative or the representational aspects of intelligence are subservient to its operative and dynamic aspects, and therefore, that understanding essentially derives from the operative aspect of intelligence.[9]

At any time, operative intelligence frames how the world is understood and it changes if understanding is not successful. Piaget stated that this process of understanding and change involves two basic functions: assimilation and accommodation.[10][11][12][13]

Assimilation and accommodation

Through his study of the field of education, Piaget focused on two processes, which he named assimilation and accommodation. To Piaget, assimilation meant integrating external elements into structures of lives or environments, or those we could have through experience. Assimilation is how humans perceive and adapt to new information. It is the process of fitting new information into pre-existing cognitive schemas.[14] Assimilation in which new experiences are reinterpreted to fit into, or assimilate with, old ideas.[15] It occurs when humans are faced with new or unfamiliar information and refer to previously learned information in order to make sense of it. In contrast, accommodation is the process of taking new information in one’s environment and altering pre-existing schemas in order to fit in the new information. This happens when the existing schema (knowledge) does not work, and needs to be changed to deal with a new object or situation.[16] Accommodation is imperative because it is how people will continue to interpret new concepts, schemas, frameworks, and more.[17] Piaget believed that the human brain has been programmed through evolution to bring equilibrium, which is what he believed ultimately influences structures by the internal and external processes through assimilation and accommodation.[14]

Piaget’s understanding was that assimilation and accommodation cannot exist without the other.[18] They are two sides of a coin. To assimilate an object into an existing mental schema, one first needs to take into account or accommodate to the particularities of this object to a certain extent. For instance, to recognize (assimilate) an apple as an apple, one must first focus (accommodate) on the contour of this object. To do this, one needs to roughly recognize the size of the object. Development increases the balance, or equilibration, between these two functions. When in balance with each other, assimilation and accommodation generate mental schemas of the operative intelligence. When one function dominates over the other, they generate representations which belong to figurative intelligence.[19]

Sensorimotor stage

US Navy 100406-N-7478G-346 Operations Specialist 2nd Class Reginald Harlmon and Electronics Technician 3rd Class Maura Schulze play peek-a-boo with a child in the Children’s Ward at Hospital Likas

Cognitive development is Jean Piaget’s theory. Through a series of stages, Piaget proposed four stages of cognitive development: the sensorimotorpreoperationalconcrete operational and formal operational period.[20] The sensorimotor stage is the first of the four stages in cognitive development which “extends from birth to the acquisition of language”.[21] In this stage, infants progressively construct knowledge and understanding of the world by coordinating experiences (such as vision and hearing) with physical interactions with objects (such as grasping, sucking, and stepping).[22] Infants gain knowledge of the world from the physical actions they perform within it.[23] They progress from reflexive, instinctual action at birth to the beginning of symbolic thought toward the end of the stage.[23]

Children learn that they are separate from the environment. They can think about aspects of the environment, even though these may be outside the reach of the child’s senses. In this stage, according to Piaget, the development of object permanence is one of the most important accomplishments.[14] Object permanence is a child’s understanding that objects continue to exist even though he or she cannot see or hear them.[23] Peek-a-boo is a good test for that. By the end of the sensorimotor period, children develop a permanent sense of self and object.[24]

Piaget divided the sensorimotor stage into six sub-stages”.[24]

Sub-Stage Age Description
Simple reflexes Birth-6 weeks “Coordination of sensation and action through reflexive behaviors”.[24] Three primary reflexes are described by Piaget: sucking of objects in the mouth, following moving or interesting objects with the eyes, and closing of the hand when an object makes contact with the palm (palmar grasp). Over the first six weeks of life, these reflexes begin to become voluntary actions. For example, the palmar reflex becomes intentional grasping.[25]
First habits and primary circular reactions phase 6 weeks-4 months “Coordination of sensation and two types of schema: habits (reflex) and primary circular reactions (reproduction of an event that initially occurred by chance). The main focus is still on the infant’s body”.[24] As an example of this type of reaction, an infant might repeat the motion of passing their hand before their face. Also at this phase, passive reactions, caused by classical or operant conditioning, can begin.[25]
Secondary circular reactions phase 4–8 months Development of habits. “Infants become more object-oriented, moving beyond self-preoccupation; repeat actions that bring interesting or pleasurable results”.[24] This stage is associated primarily with the development of coordination between vision and prehension. Three new abilities occur at this stage: intentional grasping for a desired object, secondary circular reactions, and differentiations between ends and means. At this stage, infants will intentionally grasp the air in the direction of a desired object, often to the amusement of friends and family. Secondary circular reactions, or the repetition of an action involving an external object begin; for example, moving a switch to turn on a light repeatedly. The differentiation between means and ends also occurs. This is perhaps one of the most important stages of a child’s growth as it signifies the dawn of logic.[25]
Coordination of secondary circular reactions stages 8–12 months “Coordination of vision and touch—hand-eye coordination; coordination of schemas and intentionality“.[24] This stage is associated primarily with the development of logic and the coordination between means and ends. This is an extremely important stage of development, holding what Piaget calls the “first proper intelligence“. Also, this stage marks the beginning of goal orientation, the deliberate planning of steps to meet an objective.[25]
Tertiary circular reactions, novelty, and curiosity 12–18 months “Infants become intrigued by the many properties of objects and by the many things they can make happen to objects; they experiment with new behavior”.[24] This stage is associated primarily with the discovery of new means to meet goals. Piaget describes the child at this juncture as the “young scientist,” conducting pseudo-experiments to discover new methods of meeting challenges.[25]
Internalization of schemas 18–24 months “Infants develop the ability to use primitive symbols and form enduring mental representations”.[24] This stage is associated primarily with the beginnings of insight, or true creativity. This marks the passage into the preoperational stage.

Pre-operational stage

Piaget’s second stage, the pre-operational stage, starts when the child begins to learn to speak at age two and lasts up until the age of seven. During the Pre-operational Stage of cognitive development, Piaget noted that children do not yet understand concrete logic and cannot mentally manipulate information.[26] Children’s increase in playing and pretending takes place in this stage. However, the child still has trouble seeing things from different points of view. The children’s play is mainly categorized by symbolic play and manipulating symbols. Such play is demonstrated by the idea of checkers being snacks, pieces of paper being plates, and a box being a table. Their observations of symbols exemplifies the idea of play with the absence of the actual objects involved. By observing sequences of play, Piaget was able to demonstrate that, towards the end of the second year, a qualitatively new kind of psychological functioning occurs, known as the Pre-operational Stage.[27][28]

The pre-operational stage is sparse and logically inadequate in regard to mental operations. The child is able to form stable concepts as well as magical beliefs. The child, however, is still not able to perform operations, which are tasks that the child can do mentally, rather than physically. Thinking in this stage is still egocentric, meaning the child has difficulty seeing the viewpoint of others. The Pre-operational Stage is split into two substages: the symbolic function substage, and the intuitive thought substage. The symbolic function substage is when children are able to understand, represent, remember, and picture objects in their mind without having the object in front of them. The intuitive thought substage is when children tend to propose the questions of “why?” and “how come?” This stage is when children want to understand everything.[28]

Symbolic function substage

At about two to four years of age, children cannot yet manipulate and transform information in a logical way. However, they now can think in images and symbols. Other examples of mental abilities are language and pretend play. Symbolic play is when children develop imaginary friends or role-play with friends. Children’s play becomes more social and they assign roles to each other. Some examples of symbolic play include playing house, or having a tea party. Interestingly, the type of symbolic play in which children engage is connected with their level of creativity and ability to connect with others.[29] Additionally, the quality of their symbolic play can have consequences on their later development. For example, young children whose symbolic play is of a violent nature tend to exhibit less prosocial behavior and are more likely to display antisocial tendencies in later years.[30]

In this stage, there are still limitations, such as egocentrism and precausal thinking.


Egocentrism occurs when a child is unable to distinguish between their own perspective and that of another person. Children tend to stick to their own viewpoint, rather than consider the view of others. Indeed, they are not even aware that such a concept as “different viewpoints” exists.[31] Egocentrism can be seen in an experiment performed by Piaget and Swiss developmental psychologist Bärbel Inhelder, known as the three mountain problem. In this experiment, three views of a mountain are shown to the child, who is asked what a traveling doll would see at the various angles. The child will consistently describe what they can see from the position from which they are seated, regardless of the angle from which they are asked to take the doll’s perspective. Egocentrism would also cause a child to believe, “I like Sesame Street, so Daddy must like Sesame Street, too”.

Similar to preoperational children’s egocentric thinking is their structuring of a cause and effect relationships. Piaget coined the term “precausal thinking” to describe the way in which preoperational children use their own existing ideas or views, like in egocentrism, to explain cause-and-effect relationships. Three main concepts of causality as displayed by children in the preoperational stage include: animism, artificialism and transductive reasoning.[32]

Animism is the belief that inanimate objects are capable of actions and have lifelike qualities. An example could be a child believing that the sidewalk was mad and made them fall down, or that the stars twinkle in the sky because they are happy. Artificialism refers to the belief that environmental characteristics can be attributed to human actions or interventions. For example, a child might say that it is windy outside because someone is blowing very hard, or the clouds are white because someone painted them that color. Finally, precausal thinking is categorized by transductive reasoning. Transductive reasoning is when a child fails to understand the true relationships between cause and effect.[28][33] Unlike deductive or inductive reasoning (general to specific, or specific to general), transductive reasoning refers to when a child reasons from specific to specific, drawing a relationship between two separate events that are otherwise unrelated. For example, if a child hears the dog bark and then a balloon popped, the child would conclude that because the dog barked, the balloon popped.

Intuitive thought substage

At between about the ages of 4 and 7, children tend to become very curious and ask many questions, beginning the use of primitive reasoning. There is an emergence in the interest of reasoning and wanting to know why things are the way they are. Piaget called it the “intuitive substage” because children realize they have a vast amount of knowledge, but they are unaware of how they acquired it. Centrationconservationirreversibility, class inclusion, and transitive inference are all characteristics of preoperative thought. Centration is the act of focusing all attention on one characteristic or dimension of a situation, whilst disregarding all others. Conservation is the awareness that altering a substance’s appearance does not change its basic properties. Children at this stage are unaware of conservation and exhibit centration. Both centration and conservation can be more easily understood once familiarized with Piaget’s most famous experimental task.

In this task, a child is presented with two identical beakers containing the same amount of liquid. The child usually notes that the beakers do contain the same amount of liquid. When one of the beakers is poured into a taller and thinner container, children who are younger than seven or eight years old typically say that the two beakers no longer contain the same amount of liquid, and that the taller container holds the larger quantity (centration), without taking into consideration the fact that both beakers were previously noted to contain the same amount of liquid. Due to superficial changes, the child was unable to comprehend that the properties of the substances continued to remain the same (conservation).

Irreversibility is a concept developed in this stage which is closely related to the ideas of centration and conservation. Irreversibility refers to when children are unable to mentally reverse a sequence of events. In the same beaker situation, the child does not realize that, if the sequence of events was reversed and the water from the tall beaker was poured back into its original beaker, then the same amount of water would exist. Another example of children’s reliance on visual representations is their misunderstanding of “less than” or “more than”. When two rows containing equal amounts of blocks are placed in front of a child, one row spread farther apart than the other, the child will think that the row spread farther contains more blocks.[28][34]

Class inclusion refers to a kind of conceptual thinking that children in the preoperational stage cannot yet grasp. Children’s inability to focus on two aspects of a situation at once inhibits them from understanding the principle that one category or class can contain several different subcategories or classes.[32] For example, a four-year-old girl may be shown a picture of eight dogs and three cats. The girl knows what cats and dogs are, and she is aware that they are both animals. However, when asked, “Are there more dogs or animals?” she is likely to answer “more dogs”. This is due to her difficulty focusing on the two subclasses and the larger class all at the same time. She may have been able to view the dogs as dogs or animals, but struggled when trying to classify them as both, simultaneously.[35][36] Similar to this is concept relating to intuitive thought, known as “transitive inference”.

Transitive inference is using previous knowledge to determine the missing piece, using basic logic. Children in the preoperational stage lack this logic. An example of transitive inference would be when a child is presented with the information “A” is greater than “B” and “B” is greater than “C”. This child may have difficulty here understanding that “A” is also greater than “C”.


The concrete operational stage is the third stage of Piaget’s theory of cognitive development. This stage, which follows the preoperational stage, occurs between the ages of 7 and 11 (preadolescence) years,[37] and is characterized by the appropriate use of logic. During this stage, a child’s thought processes become more mature and “adult like”. They start solving problems in a more logical fashion. Abstract, hypothetical thinking is not yet developed in the child, and children can only solve problems that apply to concrete events or objects. At this stage, the children undergo a transition where the child learns rules such as conservation.[38] Piaget determined that children are able to incorporate Inductive reasoning. Inductive reasoning involves drawing inferences from observations in order to make a generalization. In contrast, children struggle with deductive reasoning, which involves using a generalized principle in order to try to predict the outcome of an event. Children in this stage commonly experience difficulties with figuring out logic in their heads. For example, a child will understand that “A is more than B” and “B is more than C”. However, when asked “is A more than C?”, the child might not be able to logically figure the question out in his or her head.

Two other important processes in the concrete operational stage are logic and the elimination of egocentrism.

Egocentrism is the inability to consider or understand a perspective other than one’s own. It is the phase where the thought and morality of the child is completely self focused.[39] During this stage, the child acquires the ability to view things from another individual’s perspective, even if they think that perspective is incorrect. For instance, show a child a comic in which Jane puts a doll under a box, leaves the room, and then Melissa moves the doll to a drawer, and Jane comes back. A child in the concrete operations stage will say that Jane will still think it’s under the box even though the child knows it is in the drawer. (See also False-belief task.)

Children in this stage can, however, only solve problems that apply to actual (concrete) objects or events, and not abstract concepts or hypothetical tasks. Understanding and knowing how to use full common sense has not yet been completely adapted.

Piaget determined that children in the concrete operational stage were able to incorporate inductive logic. On the other hand, children at this age have difficulty using deductive logic, which involves using a general principle to predict the outcome of a specific event. This includes mental reversibility. An example of this is being able to reverse the order of relationships between mental categories. For example, a child might be able to recognize that his or her dog is a Labrador, that a Labrador is a dog, and that a dog is an animal, and draw conclusions from the information available, as well as apply all these processes to hypothetical situations.[40]

The abstract quality of the adolescent’s thought at the formal operational level is evident in the adolescent’s verbal problem solving ability.[40] The logical quality of the adolescent’s thought is when children are more likely to solve problems in a trial-and-error fashion.[40] Adolescents begin to think more as a scientist thinks, devising plans to solve problems and systematically test opinions.[40] They use hypothetical-deductive reasoning, which means that they develop hypotheses or best guesses, and systematically deduce, or conclude, which is the best path to follow in solving the problem.[40] During this stage the adolescent is able to understand love, logical proofs and values. During this stage the young person begins to entertain possibilities for the future and is fascinated with what they can be.[40]

Adolescents also are changing cognitively by the way that they think about social matters.[40] Adolescent egocentrism governs the way that adolescents think about social matters, and is the heightened self-consciousness in them as they are, which is reflected in their sense of personal uniqueness and invincibility.[40] Adolescent egocentrism can be dissected into two types of social thinking, imaginary audience that involves attention-getting behavior, and personal fable, which involves an adolescent’s sense of personal uniqueness and invincibility.[40] These two types of social thinking begin to affect a child’s egocentrism in the concrete stage. However, it carries over to the formal operational stage when they are then faced with abstract thought and fully logical thinking.

Testing for concrete operations

Piagetian tests are well known and practiced to test for concrete operations. The most prevalent tests are those for conservation. There are some important aspects that the experimenter must take into account when performing experiments with these children.

One example of an experiment for testing conservation is an experimenter will have two glasses that are the same size, fill them to the same level with liquid, which the child will acknowledge is the same. Then, the experimenter will pour the liquid from one of the small glasses into a tall, thin glass. The experimenter will then ask the child if the taller glass has more liquid, less liquid, or the same amount of liquid. The child will then give his answer. The experimenter will ask the child why he gave his answer, or why he thinks that is.

  • Justification: After the child has answered the question being posed, the experimenter must ask why the child gave that answer. This is important because the answers they give can help the experimenter to assess the child’s developmental age.[41]
  • Number of times asking: Some argue that if a child is asked if the amount of liquid in the first set of glasses is equal then, after pouring the water into the taller glass, the experimenter asks again about the amount of liquid, the children will start to doubt their original answer. They may start to think that the original levels were not equal, which will influence their second answer.[42]
  • Word choice: The phrasing that the experimenter uses may affect how the child answers. If, in the liquid and glass example, the experimenter asks, “Which of these glasses has more liquid?”, the child may think that his thoughts of them being the same is wrong because the adult is saying that one must have more. Alternatively, if the experimenter asks, “Are these equal?”, then the child is more likely to say that they are, because the experimenter is implying that they are.

Piagetian operations

Formal operational stage

The final stage is known as the formal operational stage (adolescence and into adulthood, roughly ages 11 to approximately 15–20): Intelligence is demonstrated through the logical use of symbols related to abstract concepts. This form of thought includes “assumptions that have no necessary relation to reality.”[43] At this point, the person is capable of hypothetical and deductive reasoning. During this time, people develop the ability to think about abstract concepts.

Piaget stated that “hypothetico-deductive reasoning” becomes important during the formal operational stage. This type of thinking involves hypothetical “what-if” situations that are not always rooted in reality, i.e. counterfactual thinking. It is often required in science and mathematics.

  • Abstract thought emerges during the formal operational stage. Children tend to think very concretely and specifically in earlier stages, and begin to consider possible outcomes and consequences of actions.
  • Metacognition, the capacity for “thinking about thinking” that allows adolescents and adults to reason about their thought processes and monitor them.[44]
  • Problem-solving is demonstrated when children use trial-and-error to solve problems. The ability to systematically solve a problem in a logical and methodical way emerges.

While children in primary school years mostly used inductive reasoning, drawing general conclusions from personal experiences and specific facts, adolescents become capable of deductive reasoning, in which they draw specific conclusions from abstract concepts using logic. This capability results from their capacity to think hypothetically.[45]

“However, research has shown that not all persons in all cultures reach formal operations, and most people do not use formal operations in all aspects of their lives”.[46]


Piaget and his colleagues conducted several experiments to assess formal operational thought.[47]

In one of the experiments, Piaget evaluated the cognitive capabilities of children of different ages through the use of a scale and varying weights. The task was to balance the scale by hooking weights on the ends of the scale. To successfully complete the task, the children must use formal operational thought to realize that the distance of the weights from the center and the heaviness of the weights both affected the balance. A heavier weight has to be placed closer to the center of the scale, and a lighter weight has to be placed farther from the center, so that the two weights balance each other.[45] While 3- to 5- year olds could not at all comprehend the concept of balancing, children by the age of 7 could balance the scale by placing the same weights on both ends, but they failed to realize the importance of the location. By age 10, children could think about location but failed to use logic and instead used trial-and-error. Finally, by age 13 and 14, in early adolescence, some children more clearly understood the relationship between weight and distance and could successfully implement their hypothesis.[48]

The stages and causation[edit]

Piaget sees children’s conception of causation as a march from “primitive” conceptions of cause to those of a more scientific, rigorous, and mechanical nature. These primitive concepts are characterized as supernatural, with a decidedly non-natural or non-mechanical tone. Piaget has as his most basic assumption that babies are phenomenists. That is, their knowledge “consists of assimilating things to schemas” from their own action such that they appear, from the child’s point of view, “to have qualities which, in fact, stem from the organism”. Consequently, these “subjective conceptions,” so prevalent during Piaget’s first stage of development, are dashed upon discovering deeper empirical truths.

Piaget gives the example of a child believing that the moon and stars follow him on a night walk. Upon learning that such is the case for his friends, he must separate his self from the object, resulting in a theory that the moon is immobile, or moves independently of other agents.

The second stage, from around three to eight years of age, is characterized by a mix of this type of magical, animistic, or “non-natural” conceptions of causation and mechanical or “naturalistic” causation. This conjunction of natural and non-natural causal explanations supposedly stems from experience itself, though Piaget does not make much of an attempt to describe the nature of the differences in conception. In his interviews with children, he asked questions specifically about natural phenomena, such as: “What makes clouds move?”, “What makes the stars move?”, “Why do rivers flow?” The nature of all the answers given, Piaget says, are such that these objects must perform their actions to “fulfill their obligations towards men”. He calls this “moral explanation”.[49]

Practical applications[edit]

Parents can use Piaget’s theory when deciding how to determine what to buy in order to support their child’s growth.[50] Teachers can also use Piaget’s theory, for instance, when discussing whether the syllabus subjects are suitable for the level of students or not.[51]For example, recent studies have shown that children in the same grade and of the same age perform differentially on tasks measuring basic addition and subtraction fluency. While children in the preoperational and concrete operational levels of cognitive development perform combined arithmetic operations (such as addition and subtraction) with similar accuracy,[52] children in the concrete operational level of cognitive development have been able to perform both addition problems and subtraction problems with overall greater fluency.[53]

The stage of cognitive growth of a person differ from another. It affects and influences how someone thinks about everything including flowers. A 7-month old infant, in the sensorimotor age, flowers are recognized by smelling, pulling and biting. A slightly older child has not realized that a flower is not fragrant, but similar to many children at her age, her egocentric, two handed curiosity will teach her. In the formal operational stage of an adult, flowers are part of larger, logical scheme. They are used either to earn money or to create beauty. Cognitive development or thinking is an active process from the beginning to the end of life. Intellectual advancement happens because people at every age and developmental period looks for cognitive equilibrium. To achieve this balance, the easiest way is to understand the new experiences through the lens of the preexisting ideas. Infants learn that new objects can be grabbed in the same way of familiar objects, and adults explain the day’s headlines as evidence for their existing worldview.[54]

However, the application of standardized Piagetian theory and procedures in different societies established widely varying results that lead some to speculate not only that some cultures produce more cognitive development than others but that without specific kinds of cultural experience, but also formal schooling, development might cease at certain level, such as concrete operational level. A procedure was done following methods developed in Geneva. Participants were presented with two beakers of equal circumference and height, filled with equal amounts of water. The water from one beaker was transferred into another with taller and smaller circumference. The children and young adults from non-literate societies of a given age were more likely to think that the taller, thinner beaker had more water in it. On the other hand, an experiment on the effects of modifying testing procedures to match local cultural produced a different pattern of results.[55]

Postulated physical mechanisms underlying schemas and stages[edit]

In 1967, Piaget considered the possibility of RNA molecules as likely embodiments of his still-abstract schemas (which he promoted as units of action)—though he did not come to any firm conclusion.[56] At that time, due to work such as that of Swedish biochemist Holger Hydén, RNA concentrations had, indeed, been shown to correlate with learning, so the idea was quite plausible.

However, by the time of Piaget’s death in 1980, this notion had lost favor. One main problem was over the protein which, it was assumed, such RNA would necessarily produce, and that did not fit in with observation. It was determined that only about 3% of RNA does code for protein.[57] Hence, most of the remaining 97% (the “ncRNA“) could theoretically be available to serve as Piagetian schemas (or other regulatory roles in the 2000s under investigation). The issue has not yet been resolved experimentally, but its theoretical aspects were reviewed in 2008[57] — then developed further from the viewpoints of biophysics and epistemology.[58][59] Meanwhile, this RNA-based approach also unexpectedly offered explanations for other several biological issues unresolved, thus providing some measure of corroboration.[citation needed]

Relation to psychometric theories of intelligence[edit]

Piaget designed a number of tasks to verify hypotheses arising from his theory. The tasks were not intended to measure individual differences, and they have no equivalent in psychometric intelligence tests. Notwithstanding the different research traditions in which psychometric tests and Piagetian tasks were developed, the correlations between the two types of measures have been found to be consistently positive and generally moderate in magnitude. A common general factor underlies them. It has been shown that it is possible to construct a battery consisting of Piagetian tasks that is as good a measure of general intelligence as standard IQ tests.[60][61][62]

Challenges to Piagetian stage theory[edit]

Piagetian accounts of development have been challenged on several grounds. First, as Piaget himself noted, development does not always progress in the smooth manner his theory seems to predict. Décalage, or progressive forms of cognitive developmental progression in a specific domain, suggest that the stage model is, at best, a useful approximation.[63] Furthermore, studies have found that children may be able to learn concepts and capability of complex reasoning that supposedly represented in more advanced stages with relative ease (Lourenço & Machado, 1996, p. 145).[64][65] More broadly, Piaget’s theory is “domain general,” predicting that cognitive maturation occurs concurrently across different domains of knowledge (such as mathematics, logic, and understanding of physics or language).[63] Piaget did not take into account variability in a child’s performance notably how a child can differ in sophistication across several domains.

During the 1980s and 1990s, cognitive developmentalists were influenced by “neo-nativist” and evolutionary psychology ideas. These ideas de-emphasized domain general theories and emphasized domain specificity or modularity of mind.[66] Modularity implies that different cognitive faculties may be largely independent of one another, and thus develop according to quite different timetables, which are “influenced by real world experiences”.[66] In this vein, some cognitive developmentalists argued that, rather than being domain general learners, children come equipped with domain specific theories, sometimes referred to as “core knowledge,” which allows them to break into learning within that domain. For example, even young infants appear to be sensitive to some predictable regularities in the movement and interactions of objects (for example, an object cannot pass through another object), or in human behavior (for example, a hand repeatedly reaching for an object has that object, not just a particular path of motion), as it becomes the building block of which more elaborate knowledge is constructed.

Piaget’s theory has been said to undervalue the influence that culture has on cognitive development. Piaget demonstrates that a child goes through several stages of cognitive development and come to conclusions on their own but in reality, a child’s sociocultural environment plays an important part in their cognitive development. Social interaction teaches the child about the world and helps them develop through the cognitive stages, which Piaget neglected to consider.[67][68]

More recent work has strongly challenged some of the basic presumptions of the “core knowledge” school, and revised ideas of domain generality—but from a newer dynamic systems approach, not from a revised Piagetian perspective. Dynamic systems approaches harken to modern neuroscientific research that was not available to Piaget when he was constructing his theory. One important finding is that domain-specific knowledge is constructed as children develop and integrate knowledge. This enables the domain to improve the accuracy of the knowledge as well as organization of memories.[66] However, this suggests more of a “smooth integration” of learning and development than either Piaget, or his neo-nativist critics, had envisioned. Additionally, some psychologists, such as Lev Vygotsky and Jerome Bruner, thought differently from Piaget, suggesting that language was more important for cognition development than Piaget implied.[66][69]

Post-Piagetian and neo-Piagetian stages[edit]

In recent years, several theorists attempted to address concerns with Piaget’s theory by developing new theories and models that can accommodate evidence which violates Piagetian predictions and postulates.

  • The neo-Piagetian theories of cognitive development, advanced by Robbie Case, Andreas Demetriou, Graeme S. Halford, Kurt W. FischerMichael Lamport Commons, and Juan Pascual-Leone, attempted to integrate Piaget’s theory with cognitive and differential theories of cognitive organization and development. Their aim was to better account for the cognitive factors of development and for intra-individual and inter-individual differences in cognitive development. They suggested that development along Piaget’s stages is due to increasing working memory capacity and processing efficiency by “biological maturation”.[70] Moreover, Demetriou´s theory ascribes an important role to hypercognitive processes of “self-monitoring, self-recording, self-evaluation, and self-regulation”, and it recognizes the operation of several relatively autonomous domains of thought (Demetriou, 1998; Demetriou, Mouyi, Spanoudis, 2010; Demetriou, 2003, p. 153).[71]
  • Piaget’s theory stops at the formal operational stage, but other researchers have observed the thinking of adults is more nuanced than formal operational thought. This fifth stage has been named post formal thought or operation.[72][73] Post formal stages have been proposed. Michael Commons presented evidence for four post formal stages in the model of hierarchical complexity: systematic, meta-systematic, paradigmatic, and cross-paradigmatic (Commons & Richards, 2003, p. 206–208; Oliver, 2004, p. 31).[74][75][76]There are many theorists, however, who have criticized “post formal thinking,” because the concept lacks both theoretical and empirical verification. The term “integrative thinking” has been suggested for use instead.[77][78][79][80][81]

Kohlberg’s Model of Moral Development

  • A “sentential” stage, said to occur before the early preoperational stage, has been proposed by Fischer, Biggs and Biggs, Commons, and Richards.[82][83]
  • Searching for a micro-physiological basis for human mental capacity, Robert R. Traill (1978, Section C5.4; 1999, Section 8.4) proposed that there may be “pre-sensorimotor” stages (“M−1L”, “M−2L”, …), which are developed in the womb and/or transmitted genetically.[84][85]
  • Jerome Bruner has expressed views on cognitive development in a “pragmatic orientation” in which humans actively use knowledge for practical applications, such as problem solving and understanding reality.[86]
  • Michael Lamport Commons proposed the model of hierarchical complexity (MHC) in two dimensions: horizontal complexity and vertical complexity (Commons & Richards, 2003, p. 205).[75][87][88]
  • Kieran Egan has proposed five stages of understanding: “somatic”, “mythic”, “romantic”, “philosophic”, and “ironic”, which is developed through cognitive tools such as “stories”, “binary oppositions”, “fantasy” and “rhyme, rhythm, and meter” to enhance memorization to develop a long-lasting learning capacity.[89]
  • Lawrence Kohlberg developed three stages of moral development: “Preconventional“, “Conventional” and “Postconventional”.[89][90] Each level is composed of two orientation stages, with a total of six orientation stages: (1) “Punishment-Obedience”, (2) “Instrumental Relativist”, (3) “Good Boy-Nice Girl”, (4) “Law and Order”, (5) “Social Contract”, and (6) “Universal Ethical Principle“.[89][90]
  • Andreas Demetriou has expressed neo-Piagetian theories of cognitive development.
  • Jane Loevinger’s stages of ego development occur through “an evolution of stages”.[91] “First is the Presocial Stage followed by the Symbiotic Stage, Impulsive Stage, Self-Protective Stage, Conformist Stage, Self-Aware Level: Transition from Conformist to Conscientious Stage, Individualistic Level: Transition from Conscientious to the Autonomous Stage, Conformist Stage, and Integrated Stage”.[91]
  • Ken Wilber has incorporated Piaget’s theory in his multidisciplinary field of integral theory. The human consciousness is structured in hierarchical order and organized in “holon” chains or “great chain of being“, which are based on the level of spiritual and psychological development.[92]

Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs

  • The process of initiation is a modification of Piaget’s theory integrating Abraham Maslow‘s concept of self-actualization.[93]
  • Cheryl Armon has proposed five stages of ” the Good Life”: “Egoistic Hedonism”, “Instrumental Hedonism”, “Affective/Altruistic Mutuality”, “Individuality”, and “Autonomy/Community” (Andreoletti & Demick, 2003, p. 284) (Armon, 1984, p. 40–43).[94][95]
  • Christopher R. Hallpike proposed that human evolution of cognitive moral understanding had evolved from the beginning of time from its primitive state to the present time.[96][97]
  • Robert Kegan extended Piaget’s developmental model to adults in describing what he called constructive-developmental psychology.[98]


Jean Piaget

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jean Piaget
Jean Piaget in Ann Arbor.png

Piaget at the University of Michigan, c. 1968
Born Jean William Fritz Piaget
9 August 1896
Neuchâtel, Switzerland
Died 16 September 1980 (aged 84)
Geneva, Switzerland
Alma mater University of Neuchâtel
Known for Constructivismgenetic epistemologytheory of cognitive developmentobject permanenceegocentrism
Scientific career
Fields Developmental psychologyepistemology
Influences Immanuel KantHenri Bergson,[1]Pierre JanetAlfred BinetThéodore SimonJames Mark Baldwin[2]
Influenced Bärbel Inhelder,[3] Jerome Bruner,[4] Kenneth Kaye,[citation needed] Lawrence Kohlberg,[5] Robert Kegan,[6]Howard Gardner,[7] Thomas Kuhn,[8] Seymour Papert,[9] Lev Vygotsky[10][11]

Jean Piaget (French: [ʒɑ̃ pjaʒɛ]; 9 August 1896 – 16 September 1980) was a Swiss clinical psychologist known for his pioneering work in child development. Piaget’s theory of cognitive development and epistemological view are together called “genetic epistemology“.

Piaget placed great importance on the education of children. As the Director of the International Bureau of Education, he declared in 1934 that “only education is capable of saving our societies from possible collapse, whether violent, or gradual.”[12] His theory of child development is studied in pre-service education programs. Educators continue to incorporate constructivist-based strategies.

Piaget created the International Center for Genetic Epistemology in Geneva in 1955 while on the faculty of the University of Geneva and directed the Center until his death in 1980.[13] The number of collaborations that its founding made possible, and their impact, ultimately led to the Center being referred to in the scholarly literature as “Piaget’s factory”.[14]

According to Ernst von Glasersfeld, Jean Piaget was “the great pioneer of the constructivist theory of knowing.”[15] However, his ideas did not become widely popularized until the 1960s.[16] This then led to the emergence of the study of development as a major sub-discipline in psychology.[17] By the end of the 20th century, Piaget was second only to B. F. Skinner as the most cited psychologist of that era.[18]



Personal life

Piaget was born in 1896 in Neuchâtel, in the Francophone region of Switzerland. He was the oldest son of Arthur Piaget (Swiss), a professor of medieval literature at the University of Neuchâtel, and Rebecca Jackson (French). Piaget was a precocious child who developed an interest in biology and the natural world. His early interest in zoology earned him a reputation among those in the field after he had published several articles on mollusks by the age of 15.[19]

He was educated at the University of Neuchâtel, and studied briefly at the University of Zürich. During this time, he published two philosophical papers that showed the direction of his thinking at the time, but which he later dismissed as adolescent thought.[20] His interest in psychoanalysis, at the time a burgeoning strain of psychology, can also be dated to this period. Piaget moved from Switzerland to Paris, France after his graduation and he taught at the Grange-Aux-Belles Street School for Boys. The school was run by Alfred Binet, the developer of the Stanford–Binet Intelligence Scales, and Piaget assisted in the marking of Binet’s intelligence tests. It was while he was helping to mark some of these tests that Piaget noticed that young children consistently gave wrong answers to certain questions. Piaget did not focus so much on the fact of the children’s answers being wrong, but that young children consistently made types of mistakes that older children and adults did not. This led him to the theory that young children’s cognitive processes are inherently different from those of adults. Ultimately, he was to propose a global theory of cognitive developmental stages in which individuals exhibit certain common patterns of cognition in each period of development. In 1921, Piaget returned to Switzerland as director of the Rousseau Institute in Geneva. At this time, the institute was directed by Édouard Claparède.[21] Piaget was familiar with many of Claparède’s ideas including that of the psychological concept ‘groping’ which was closely associated with “trials and errors” observed in human mental patterns.[22]

In 1923, he married Valentine Châtenay; the couple had three children, whom Piaget studied from infancy. From 1925 to 1929 Piaget was professor of psychology, sociology, and the philosophy of science at the University of Neuchatel.[23] In 1929, Jean Piaget accepted the post of Director of the International Bureau of Education and remained the head of this international organization until 1968. Every year, he drafted his “Director’s Speeches” for the IBE Council and for the International Conference on Public Education in which he explicitly addressed his educational credo.

Having taught at the University of Geneva and at the University of Paris, in 1964, Piaget was invited to serve as chief consultant at two conferences at Cornell University (March 11–13) and University of California, Berkeley(March 16–18). The conferences addressed the relationship of cognitive studies and curriculum development and strived to conceive implications of recent investigations of children’s cognitive development for curricula.[24]

In 1979 he was awarded the Balzan Prize for Social and Political Sciences.

He was buried with his family in an unmarked grave in the Cimetière des Rois (Cemetery of Kings) in Geneva. This was as per his request.[25]

Career history

Bust of Jean Piaget in the Parc des BastionsGeneva

Harry Beilin described Jean Piaget’s theoretical research program[26] as consisting of four phases:

  1. the sociological model of development,
  2. the biological model of intellectual development,
  3. the elaboration of the logical model of intellectual development,
  4. the study of figurative thought.

The resulting theoretical frameworks are sufficiently different from each other that they have been characterized as representing different “Piagets.” More recently, Jeremy Burman responded to Beilin and called for the addition of a phase before his turn to psychology: “the zeroeth Piaget.”[27]

Piaget before psychology

Before Piaget became a psychologist, he trained in natural history and philosophy. He received a doctorate in 1918 from the University of Neuchatel. He then undertook post-doctoral training in Zurich (1918–1919), and Paris (1919–1921). He was hired by Théodore Simon to standardize psychometric measures for use with French children in 1919.[28]. The theorist we recognize today only emerged when he moved to Geneva, to work for Édouard Claparède as director of research at the Rousseau Institute, in 1922.

Sociological model of development

Piaget first developed as a psychologist in the 1920s. He investigated the hidden side of children’s minds. Piaget proposed that children moved from a position of egocentrism to sociocentrism. For this explanation he combined the use of psychological and clinical methods to create what he called a semiclinical interview. He began the interview by asking children standardized questions and depending on how they answered, he would ask them a series of nonstandard questions. Piaget was looking for what he called “spontaneous conviction” so he often asked questions the children neither expected nor anticipated. In his studies, he noticed there was a gradual progression from intuitive to scientific and socially acceptable responses. Piaget theorized children did this because of the social interaction and the challenge to younger children’s ideas by the ideas of those children who were more advanced.

This work was used by Elton Mayo as the basis for the famous Hawthorne Experiments.[29] For Piaget, it also led to an honorary doctorate from Harvard in 1936.[30]

Biological model of intellectual development

In this stage, Piaget believed that the process of thinking and the intellectual development could be regarded as an extension of the biological process of the evolutionary adaptation of the species, which has also two on-going processes: assimilation and accommodation. There is assimilation when a child responds to a new event in a way that is consistent with an existing schema.[31] There is accommodation when a child either modifies an existing schema or forms an entirely new schema to deal with a new object or event.[31]

He argued infants were engaging in an act of assimilation when they sucked on everything in their reach. He claimed infants transform all objects into an object to be sucked. The children were assimilating the objects to conform to their own mental structures. Piaget then made the assumption that whenever one transforms the world to meet individual needs or conceptions, one is, in a way, assimilating it. Piaget also observed his children not only assimilating objects to fit their needs, but also modifying some of their mental structures to meet the demands of the environment. This is the second division of adaptation known as accommodation. To start out, the infants only engaged in primarily reflex actions such as sucking, but not long after, they would pick up objects and put them in their mouths. When they do this, they modify their reflex response to accommodate the external objects into reflex actions. Because the two are often in conflict, they provide the impetus for intellectual development. The constant need to balance the two triggers intellectual growth.

To test his theory, Piaget observed the habits in his own children.

Elaboration of the logical model of intellectual development

In the model Piaget developed in stage three, he argued that intelligence develops in a series of stages that are related to age and are progressive because one stage must be accomplished before the next can occur. For each stage of development the child forms a view of reality for that age period. At the next stage, the child must keep up with earlier level of mental abilities to reconstruct concepts. Piaget conceived intellectual development as an upward expanding spiral in which children must constantly reconstruct the ideas formed at earlier levels with new, higher order concepts acquired at the next level.

It is primarily the “Third Piaget” (the logical model of intellectual development) that was debated by American psychologists when Piaget’s ideas were “rediscovered” in the 1960s.[32]

Study of figurative thought

Piaget studied areas of intelligence like perception and memory that are not entirely logical. Logical concepts are described as being completely reversible because they can always get back to the starting point. The perceptual concepts Piaget studied could not be manipulated. To describe the figurative process, Piaget uses pictures as examples. Pictures can’t be separated because contours cannot be separated from the forms they outline. Memory is the same way. It is never completely reversible. During this last period of work, Piaget and his colleague Inhelder also published books on perception, memory, and other figurative processes such as learning.[33][34][35] Because Piaget’s theory is based upon biological maturation and stages, the notion of readiness is important. Readiness concerns when certain information or concepts should be taught. According to Piaget’s theory children should not be taught certain concepts until they reached the appropriate stage of cognitive development.


Piaget defined himself as a ‘genetic’ epistemologist, interested in the process of the qualitative development of knowledge. He considered cognitive structures development as a differentiation of biological regulations. When his entire theory first became known – the theory in itself being based on a structuralist and a cognitivitist approach – it was an outstanding and exciting development in regards to the psychological community at that time.[36]

There are a total of four phases in Piaget’s research program that included books on certain topics of developmental psychology. In particular, during one period of research, he described himself studying his own three children, and carefully observing and interpreting their cognitive development.[37] In one of his last books, Equilibration of Cognitive Structures: The Central Problem of Intellectual Development, he intends to explain knowledge development as a process of equilibration using two main concepts in his theory, assimilation and accommodation, as belonging not only to biological interactions but also to cognitive ones.

Piaget believed answers for the epistemological questions at his time could be answered, or better proposed, if one looked to the genetic aspect of it, hence his experimentations with children and adolescents. As he says in the introduction of his book Genetic Epistemology: “What the genetic epistemology proposes is discovering the roots of the different varieties of knowledge, since its elementary forms, following to the next levels, including also the scientific knowledge.”


The four development stages are described in Piaget’s theory as:

1. Sensorimotor stage: from birth to age two. The children experience the world through movement and their senses. During the sensorimotor stage children are extremely egocentric, meaning they cannot perceive the world from others’ viewpoints. The sensorimotor stage is divided into six substages:[38]

I. Simple reflexes;

From birth to one month old. At this time infants use reflexes such as rooting and sucking.
II. First habits and primary circular reactions;

From one month to four months old. During this time infants learn to coordinate sensation and two types of schema (habit and circular reactions). A primary circular reaction is when the infant tries to reproduce an event that happened by accident (ex.: sucking thumb).
III. Secondary circular reactions;

From four to eight months old. At this time they become aware of things beyond their own body; they are more object-oriented. At this time they might accidentally shake a rattle and continue to do it for sake of satisfaction.
IV. Coordination of secondary circular reactions;

From eight months to twelve months old. During this stage they can do things intentionally. They can now combine and recombine schemata and try to reach a goal (ex.: use a stick to reach something). They also understand object permanence during this stage. That is, they understand that objects continue to exist even when they can’t see them.
V. Tertiary circular reactions, novelty, and curiosity;

From twelve months old to eighteen months old. During this stage infants explore new possibilities of objects; they try different things to get different results.
VI. Internalization of schemata.

Some followers of Piaget’s studies of infancy, such as Kenneth Kaye[39] argue that his contribution was as an observer of countless phenomena not previously described, but that he didn’t offer explanation of the processes in real time that cause those developments, beyond analogizing them to broad concepts about biological adaptation generally. Kaye’s “apprenticeship theory” of cognitive and social development refuted Piaget’s assumption that mind developed endogenously in infants until the capacity for symbolic reasoning allowed them to learn language.

2. Preoperational stage: Piaget’s second stage, the pre-operational stage, starts when the child begins to learn to speak at age two and lasts up until the age of seven. During the Pre-operational Stage of cognitive development, Piaget noted that children do not yet understand concrete logic and cannot mentally manipulate information. Children’s increase in playing and pretending takes place in this stage. However, the child still has trouble seeing things from different points of view. The children’s play is mainly categorized by symbolic play and manipulating symbols. Such play is demonstrated by the idea of checkers being snacks, pieces of paper being plates, and a box being a table. Their observations of symbols exemplifies the idea of play with the absence of the actual objects involved. By observing sequences of play, Piaget was able to demonstrate that, towards the end of the second year, a qualitatively new kind of psychological functioning occurs, known as the Pre-operational Stage.[40]

The pre-operational stage is sparse and logically inadequate in regard to mental operations. The child is able to form stable concepts as well as magical beliefs. The child, however, is still not able to perform operations, which are tasks that the child can do mentally, rather than physically. Thinking in this stage is still egocentric, meaning the child has difficulty seeing the viewpoint of others. The Pre-operational Stage is split into two substages: the symbolic function substage, and the intuitive thought substage. The symbolic function substage is when children are able to understand, represent, remember, and picture objects in their mind without having the object in front of them. The intuitive thought substage is when children tend to propose the questions of “why?” and “how come?” This stage is when children want the knowledge of knowing everything.[40]

The Preoperational Stage is divided into two substages:

I. Symbolic Function Substage

From two to four years of age children find themselves using symbols to represent physical models of the world around them. This is demonstrated through a child’s drawing of their family in which people are not drawn to scale or accurate physical traits are given. The child knows they are not accurate but it does not seem to be an issue to them.
II. Intuitive Thought Substage

At between about the ages of four and seven, children tend to become very curious and ask many questions, beginning the use of primitive reasoning. There is an emergence in the interest of reasoning and wanting to know why things are the way they are. Piaget called it the “intuitive substage” because children realize they have a vast amount of knowledge, but they are unaware of how they acquired it. Centration, conservation, irreversibility, class inclusion, and transitive inference are all characteristics of preoperative thought.[40]

3. Concrete operational stage: from ages seven to eleven. Children can now conserve and think logically (they understand reversibility) but are limited to what they can physically manipulate. They are no longer egocentric. During this stage, children become more aware of logic and conservation, topics previously foreign to them. Children also improve drastically with their classification skills

4. Formal operational stage: from age eleven to sixteen and onwards (development of abstract reasoning). Children develop abstract thought and can easily conserve and think logically in their mind. Abstract thought is newly present during this stage of development. Children are now able to think abstractly and utilize metacognition. Along with this, the children in the formal operational stage display more skills oriented towards problem solving, often in multiple steps.

Developmental process

Piaget provided no concise description of the development process as a whole. Broadly speaking it consisted of a cycle:

  • The child performs an action which has an effect on or organizes objects, and the child is able to note the characteristics of the action and its effects.
  • Through repeated actions, perhaps with variations or in different contexts or on different kinds of objects, the child is able to differentiate and integrate its elements and effects. This is the process of “reflecting abstraction” (described in detail in Piaget 2001).
  • At the same time, the child is able to identify the properties of objects by the way different kinds of action affect them. This is the process of “empirical abstraction”.
  • By repeating this process across a wide range of objects and actions, the child establishes a new level of knowledge and insight. This is the process of forming a new “cognitive stage”. This dual process allows the child to construct new ways of dealing with objects and new knowledge about objects themselves.
  • However, once the child has constructed these new kinds of knowledge, he or she starts to use them to create still more complex objects and to carry out still more complex actions. As a result, the child starts to recognize still more complex patterns and to construct still more complex objects. Thus a new stage begins, which will only be completed when all the child’s activity and experience have been re-organized on this still higher level.

This process may not be wholly gradual, but new evidence shows that the passage into new stages is more gradual than once thought. Once a new level of organization, knowledge and insight proves to be effective, it will quickly be generalized to other areas if they exist. As a result, transitions between stages can seem to be rapid and radical, but oftentimes the child has grasped one aspect of the new stage of cognitive functioning but not addressed others. The bulk of the time spent in a new stage consists of refining this new cognitive level however it is not always happening quickly. For example, a child may learn that two different colors of Play-Doh have been fused together to make one ball, based on the color. However, if sugar is mixed into water or iced tea, then the sugar “disappeared” and therefore does not exist. These levels of one concept of cognitive development are not realized all at once, giving us a gradual realization of the world around us.[41]

It is because this process takes this dialectical form, in which each new stage is created through the further differentiation, integration, and synthesis of new structures out of the old, that the sequence of cognitive stages are logically necessary rather than simply empirically correct. Each new stage emerges only because the child can take for granted the achievements of its predecessors, and yet there are still more sophisticated forms of knowledge and action that are capable of being developed.

Because it covers both how we gain knowledge about objects and our reflections on our own actions, Piaget’s model of development explains a number of features of human knowledge that had never previously been accounted for. For example, by showing how children progressively enrich their understanding of things by acting on and reflecting on the effects of their own previous knowledge, they are able to organize their knowledge in increasingly complex structures. Thus, once a young child can consistently and accurately recognize different kinds of animals, he or she then acquires the ability to organize the different kinds into higher groupings such as “birds”, “fish”, and so on. This is significant because they are now able to know things about a new animal simply on the basis of the fact that it is a bird – for example, that it will lay eggs.

At the same time, by reflecting on their own actions, the child develops an increasingly sophisticated awareness of the “rules” that govern in various ways. For example, it is by this route that Piaget explains this child’s growing awareness of notions such as “right”, “valid”, “necessary”, “proper”, and so on. In other words, it is through the process of objectificationreflection and abstraction that the child constructs the principles on which action is not only effective or correct but also justified.

One of Piaget’s most famous studies focused purely on the discriminative abilities of children between the ages of two and a half years old, and four and a half years old. He began the study by taking children of different ages and placing two lines of sweets, one with the sweets in a line spread further apart, and one with the same number of sweets in a line placed more closely together. He found that, “Children between 2 years, 6 months old and 3 years, 2 months old correctly discriminate the relative number of objects in two rows; between 3 years, 2 months and 4 years, 6 months they indicate a longer row with fewer objects to have “more”; after 4 years, 6 months they again discriminate correctly” (Cognitive Capacity of Very Young Children, p. 141). Initially younger children were not studied, because if at four years old a child could not conserve quantity, then a younger child presumably could not either. The results show however that children that are younger than three years and two months have quantity conservation, but as they get older they lose this quality, and do not recover it until four and a half years old. This attribute may be lost due to a temporary inability to solve because of an overdependence on perceptual strategies, which correlates more candy with a longer line of candy, or due to the inability for a four-year-old to reverse situations.

By the end of this experiment several results were found. First, younger children have a discriminative ability that shows the logical capacity for cognitive operations exists earlier than acknowledged. This study also reveals that young children can be equipped with certain qualities for cognitive operations, depending on how logical the structure of the task is. Research also shows that children develop explicit understanding at age 5 and as a result, the child will count the sweets to decide which has more. Finally the study found that overall quantity conservation is not a basic characteristic of humans’ native inheritance.

Genetic epistemology

According to Jean Piaget, genetic epistemology “attempts to explain knowledge, and in particular scientific knowledge, on the basis of its history, its sociogenesis, and especially the psychological origins of the notions and operations upon which it is based”[5]. Piaget believed he could test epistemological questions by studying the development of thought and action in children. As a result, Piaget created a field known as genetic epistemology with its own methods and problems. He defined this field as the study of child development as a means of answering epistemological questions.


A Schema is a structured cluster of concepts, it can be used to represent objects, scenarios or sequences of events or relations. The original idea was proposed by philosopher Immanuel Kant as innate structures used to help us perceive the world.[42]

A schema (pl. schemata) is the mental framework that is created as children interact with their physical and social environments.[43] For example, many 3-year-olds insist that the sun is alive because it comes up in the morning and goes down at night. According to Piaget, these children are operating based on a simple cognitive schema that things that move are alive. At any age, children rely on their current cognitive structures to understand the world around them. Moreover, younger and older children may often interpret and respond to the same objects and events in very different ways because cognitive structures take different forms at different ages.[44]

Piaget (1953) described three kinds of intellectual structures: behavioural (or sensorimotor) schemata, symbolic schemata, and operational schemata.

  • Behavioural schemata: organized patterns of behaviour that are used to represent and respond to objects and experiences.
  • Symbolic schemata: internal mental symbols (such as images or verbal codes) that one uses to represent aspects of experience.
  • Operational schemata: internal mental activity that one performs on objects of thought.[45]

According to Piaget, children use the process of assimilation and accommodation to create a schema or mental framework for how they perceive and/or interpret what they are experiencing. As a result, the early concepts of young children tend to be more global or general in nature.[46]

Similarly, Gallagher and Reid (1981) maintained that adults view children’s concepts as highly generalized and even inaccurate. With added experience, interactions, and maturity, these concepts become refined and more detailed. Overall, making sense of the world from a child’s perspective is a very complex and time-consuming process.[47]

Schemata are:

  • Critically important building block of conceptual development
  • Constantly in the process of being modified or changed
  • Modified by on-going experiences
  • A generalized idea, usually based on experience or prior knowledge.[46]

These schemata are constantly being revised and elaborated upon each time the child encounters new experiences. In doing this children create their own unique understanding of the world, interpret their own experiences and knowledge, and subsequently use this knowledge to solve more complex problems. In a neurological sense, the brain/mind is constantly working to build and rebuild itself as it takes in, adapts/modifies new information, and enhances understanding.[46]

Physical microstructure of schemata

In his Biology and Knowledge (1967+ / French 1965), Piaget tentatively hinted at possible physical embodiments for his abstract schema entities. At the time, there was much talk and research about RNA as such an agent of learning, and Piaget considered some of the evidence. However, he did not offer any firm conclusions, and confessed that this was beyond his area of expertise.

Research methods

Piaget wanted to revolutionize the way research was conducted. Although he started researching with his colleagues using a traditional method of data collection, he was not fully satisfied with the results and wanted to keep trying to find new ways of researching using a combination of data, which included naturalistic observationpsychometrics, and the psychiatric clinical examination, in order to have a less guided form of research that would produce more empirically valid results. As Piaget developed new research methods, he wrote a book called The Language and Thought of the Child, which aimed to synthesize the methods he was using in order to study the conclusion children drew from situations and how they arrived to such conclusion. The main idea was to observe how children responded and articulated certain situations with their own reasoning, in order to examine their thought processes (Mayer, 2005).

Piaget administered a test in 15 boys with ages ranging from 10 to 14 years in which he asked participants to describe the relationship between a mixed bouquet of flowers and a bouquet with flowers of the same color. The purpose of this study was to analyze the thinking process the boys had and to draw conclusions about the logic processes they had used, which was a psychometric technique of research. Piaget also used the psychoanalytic method initially developed by Sigmund Freud. The purpose of using such method was to examine the unconscious mind, as well as to continue parallel studies using different research methods. Psychoanalysis was later rejected by Piaget, as he thought it was insufficiently empirical (Mayer, 2005).

Piaget argued that children and adults used speech for different purposes. In order to confirm his argument, he experimented analyzing a child’s interpretation of a story. In the experiment, the child listened to a story and then told a friend that same story in his/her/their own words. The purpose of this study was to examine how children verbalize and understand each other without adult intervention. Piaget wanted to examine the limits of naturalistic observation, in order to understand a child’s reasoning. He realized the difficulty of studying children’s thoughts, as it is hard to know if a child is pretending to believe their thoughts or not. Piaget was the pioneer researcher to examine children’s conversations in a social context – starting from examining their speech and actions – where children were comfortable and spontaneous (Kose, 1987).

Issues and possible solutions

After conducting many studies, Piaget was able to find significant differences in the way adults and children reason; however, he was still unable to find the path of logic reasoning and the unspoken thoughts children had, which could allow him to study a child’s intellectual development over time (Mayer, 2005). In his third book, The Child’s Conception of the World, Piaget recognized the difficulties of his prior techniques and the importance of psychiatric clinical examination. The researcher believed that the way clinical examinations were conducted influenced how a child’s inner realities surfaced. Children would likely respond according to the way the research is conducted, the questions asked, or the familiarity they have with the environment. The clinical examination conducted for his third book provides a thorough investigation into a child’s thinking process. An example of a question used to research such process was: “Can you see a thought?” (Mayer, 2005, p. 372).

Development of new methods

Piaget recognized that psychometric tests had its limitations, as children were not able to provide the researcher with their deepest thoughts and inner intellect. It was also difficult to know if the results of child examination reflected what children believed or if it is just a pretend situation. For example, it is very difficult to know with certainty if a child who has a conversation with a toy believes the toy is alive or if the child is just pretending. Soon after drawing conclusions about psychometric studies, Piaget started developing the clinical method of examination. The clinical method included questioning a child and carefully examining their responses -in order to observe how the child reasoned according to the questions asked – and then examine the child’s perception of the world through their responses. Piaget recognized the difficulties of interviewing a child and the importance of recognizing the difference between “liberated” versus “spontaneous” responses (Mayer, 2005, p. 372).

Criticism of Piaget’s research methods

“The developmental theory of Jean Piaget has been criticized on the grounds that it is conceptually limited, empirically false, or philosophically and epistemologically untenable.” (Lourenço & Machado, 1996, p. 143) Piaget responded to criticism by acknowledging that the vast majority of critics did not understand the outcomes he wished to obtain from his research (Lourenço & Machado, 1996).

As Piaget believed development was a universal process, his initial sample sizes were inadequate, particularly in the formulation of his theory of infant development.[48] Piaget’s theories of infant development were based on his observations of his own three children. While this clearly presents problems with the sample size, Piaget also probably introduced confounding variables and social desirability into his observations and his conclusions based on his observations. It is entirely possible Piaget conditioned his children to respond in a desirable manner, so, rather than having an understanding of object permanence, his children might have learned to behave in a manner that indicated they understood object permanence. The sample was also very homogenous, as all three children had a similar genetic heritage and environment. Piaget did, however, have larger sample sizes during his later years.

Development of research methods

Piaget wanted to research in environments that would allow children to connect with some existing aspects of the world. The idea was to change the approach described in his book The Child’s Conception of the World and move away from the vague questioning interviews. This new approach was described in his book The Child’s Conception of Physical Causality, where children were presented with dilemmas and had to think of possible solutions on their own. Later, after carefully analyzing previous methods, Piaget developed a combination of naturalistic observation with clinical interviewing in his book Judgment and Reasoning in the Child, where a child’s intellect was tested with questions and close monitoring. Piaget was convinced he had found a way to analyze and access a child’s thoughts about the world in a very effective way. (Mayer, 2005) Piaget’s research provided a combination of theoretical and practical research methods and it has offered a crucial contribution to the field of developmental psychology (Beilin, 1992). “Piaget is often criticized because his method of investigation, though somewhat modified in recent years, is still largely clinical”. He observes a child’s surroundings and behavior. He then comes up with a hypothesis testing it and focusing on both the surroundings and behavior after changing a little of the surrounding. (Phillips, 1969)


Photo of the Jean Piaget Foundation with Pierre Bovet (1878–1965) first row (with large beard) and Jean Piaget (1896–1980) first row (on the right, with glasses) in front of the Rousseau Institute (Geneva), 1925

Despite his ceasing to be a fashionable psychologist, the magnitude of Piaget’s continuing influence can be measured by the global scale and activity of the Jean Piaget Society, which holds annual conferences and attracts around 700 participants.[49] His theory of cognitive development has proved influential in many different areas:

Developmental psychology

Piaget is the most influential developmental psychologist to date (Lourenço, O. and Machado, A., 1996), influencing not only the work of Lev Vygotsky and of Lawrence Kohlberg but whole generations of eminent academics.[clarification needed] Although subjecting his ideas to massive scrutiny led to innumerable improvements and qualifications of his original model and the emergence of a plethora of neo-Piagetian and post-Piagetian variants, Piaget’s original model has proved to be remarkably robust (Lourenço and Machado 1996).

Piaget on education

By using Piaget’s theory, educators focus on their students as learners. As a result of this focus, education is learner-center and constructivist-based to an extent. Piaget’s theory allows teachers to view students as individual learners who add new concepts to prior knowledge to construct, or build, understanding for themselves.[50] Teachers who use a learner-centered approach as a basis for their professional practices incorporate the several dispositions.[50] They provide experience-based educational opportunities. These teachers also contemplate the learners’ individual qualities and attitudes during curriculum planning. Educators allow learners’ insights to alter the curriculum. They nourish and support learners’ curiosity. They also involve learners’ emotions and create a learning environment in which students feel safe.[50]

There are two differences between the preoperational and concrete operational stages that apply to education. These differences are reversibility and decentration. At times, reversibility and decentration occur at the same time.[51] When students think about the steps to complete a task without using a particular logical, sequential order, they are using reversibility.[51] Decentration allows him to concentrate on multiple components of a problematic task at a time.[51] Students use both reversibility and decentration to function throughout the school day, follow directions, and complete assignments.

An example of a student using reversibility is when learning new vocabulary. The student creates a list of unfamiliar words from a literary text. Then, he researches the definition of those words before asking classmate to test him. His teacher has given a set of particular instructions that he must follow in a particular order: he must write the word before defining it, and complete these two steps repeatedly.[51] A child in the preoperational stage gets confused during this process and needs assistance from the teacher to stay on task. The teacher refers him back to his text in order to notate the next word before he can define it.[51] A child in the preoperational stage does not understand the organization required to complete this assignment. However, a child in the concrete operational stage understands the organization, and he can recall the steps in any order while being able to follow the order given.[51] Using decentration, the child has the two activities on his mind: identify words and find them in the dictionary.[51]

A sample of decentration is a preschooler may use a toy banana as a pretend telephone. The child knows the difference between the fruit and a phone. However, in this form of play, he is operating on two levels at once.[51] In an older child at the concrete operational level, decentration allows him to complete subtraction of two-digit numbers and indicate which of the problems also involved borrowing from the other column. The student simultaneously does both.[51] Using reversibility, the student has to move mentally between two subtasks.

Regarding the giving of praise by teachers, praise is a reinforcer for students. Adolescents undergo social-emotional development such that they seek rapport with peers. Thus, teacher praise is not as powerful for students who see teachers as authority figures. They give no value to praise provided by adults, or they have no respect for the individual who is giving praise.[52]


During the 1970s and 1980s, Piaget’s works also inspired the transformation of European and American education, including both theory and practice, leading to a more ‘child-centered’ approach. In Conversations with Jean Piaget, he says: “Education, for most people, means trying to lead the child to resemble the typical adult of his society … but for me and no one else, education means making creators… You have to make inventors, innovators—not conformists” (Bringuier, 1980, p. 132).

His theory of cognitive development can be used as a tool in the early childhood classroom. According to Piaget, children developed best in a classroom with interaction.

Piaget defined knowledge as the ability to modify, transform, and “operate on” an object or idea, such that it is understood by the operator through the process of transformation.[53] Learning, then, occurs as a result of experience, both physical and logical, with the objects themselves and how they are acted upon. Thus, knowledge must be assimilated in an active process by a learner with matured mental capacity, so that knowledge can build in complexity by scaffolded understanding. Understanding is scaffolded by the learner through the process of equilibration, whereby the learner balances new knowledge with previous understanding, thereby compensating for “transformation” of knowledge.[53]

Learning, then, can also be supported by instructors in an educational setting. Piaget specified that knowledge cannot truly be formed until the learner has matured the mental structures to which that learning is specific, and thereby development constrains learning. Nevertheless, knowledge can also be “built” by building on simpler operations and structures that have already been formed. Basing operations of an advanced structure on those of simpler structures thus scaffolds learning to build on operational abilities as they develop. Good teaching, then, is built around the operational abilities of the students such that they can excel in their operational stage and build on preexisting structures and abilities and thereby “build” learning.[53]

Evidence of the effectiveness of a contemporary curricular design building on Piaget’s theories of developmental progression and the support of maturing mental structures can be seen in Griffin and Case’s “Number Worlds” curriculum.[54] The curriculum works toward building a “central conceptual structure” of number sense in young children by building on five instructional processes, including aligning curriculum to the developmental sequencing of acquisition of specific skills. By outlining the developmental sequence of number sense, a conceptual structure is built and aligned to individual children as they develop.


Piaget believed in two basic principles relating to moral education: that children develop moral ideas in stages and that children create their conceptions of the world. According to Piaget, “the child is someone who constructs his own moral world view, who forms ideas about right and wrong, and fair and unfair, that are not the direct product of adult teaching and that are often maintained in the face of adult wishes to the contrary” (Gallagher, 1978, p. 26). Piaget believed that children made moral judgments based on their own observations of the world.

Piaget’s theory of morality was radical when his book The Moral Judgment of the Child was published in 1932 for two reasons: his use of philosophical criteria to define morality (as universalizable, generalizable, and obligatory) and his rejection of equating cultural norms with moral norms. Piaget, drawing on Kantian theory, proposed that morality developed out of peer interaction and that it was autonomous from authority mandates. Peers, not parents, were a key source of moral concepts such as equality, reciprocity, and justice.

Piaget attributed different types of psychosocial processes to different forms of social relationships, introducing a fundamental distinction between different types of said relationships. Where there is constraint because one participant holds more power than the other the relationship is asymmetrical, and, importantly, the knowledge that can be acquired by the dominated participant takes on a fixed and inflexible form. Piaget refers to this process as one of social transmission, illustrating it through reference to the way in which the elders of a tribe initiate younger members into the patterns of beliefs and practices of the group. Similarly, where adults exercise a dominating influence over the growing child, it is through social transmission that children can acquire knowledge. By contrast, in cooperative relations, power is more evenly distributed between participants so that a more symmetrical relationship emerges. Under these conditions, authentic forms of intellectual exchange become possible; each partner has the freedom to project his or her own thoughts, consider the positions of others, and defend his or her own point of view. In such circumstances, where children’s thinking is not limited by a dominant influence, Piaget believed “the reconstruction of knowledge”, or favorable conditions for the emergence of constructive solutions to problems, exists. Here the knowledge that emerges is open, flexible and regulated by the logic of argument rather than being determined by an external authority.

In short, cooperative relations provide the arena for the emergence of operations, which for Piaget requires the absence of any constraining influence, and is most often illustrated by the relations that form between peers (for more on the importance of this distinction see Duveen & Psaltis, 2008; Psaltis & Duveen, 2006, 2007). This is thus how, according to Piaget, children learn moral judgement as opposed to cultural norms (or maybe ideological norms).

Historical studies of thought and cognition

Historical changes of thought have been modeled in Piagetian terms. Broadly speaking these models have mapped changes in morality, intellectual life and cognitive levels against historical changes (typically in the complexity of social systems).

Notable examples include:

Non-human development

Neo-Piagetian stages have been applied to the maximum stage attained by various animals. For example, spiders attain the circular sensory motor stage, coordinating actions and perceptions. Pigeons attain the sensory motor stage, forming concepts.[citation needed]


The origins of human intelligence have also been studied in Piagetian terms. Wynn (1979, 1981) analysed Acheulian and Oldowan tools in terms of the insight into spatial relationships required to create each kind. On a more general level, Robinson’s Birth of Reason (2005) suggests a large-scale model for the emergence of a Piagetian intelligence.


Piaget’s models of cognition have also been applied outside the human sphere, and some primatologists assess the development and abilities of primates in terms of Piaget’s model.[61]


Philosophers have used Piaget’s work. For example, the philosopher and social theorist Jürgen Habermas has incorporated Piaget into his work, most notably in The Theory of Communicative Action. The philosopher Thomas Kuhn credited Piaget’s work with helping him to understand the transition between modes of thought which characterized his theory of paradigm shifts.[62] Yet, that said, it is also noted that the implications of his later work do indeed remain largely unexamined.[63] Shortly before his death (September 1980), Piaget was involved in a debate about the relationships between innate and acquired features of language, at the Centre Royaumont pour une Science de l’Homme, where he discussed his point of view with the linguist Noam Chomsky as well as Hilary Putnam and Stephen Toulmin.

Artificial intelligence

Piaget also had a considerable effect in the field of computer science and artificial intelligenceSeymour Papert used Piaget’s work while developing the Logo programming languageAlan Kay used Piaget’s theories as the basis for the Dynabook programming system concept, which was first discussed within the confines of the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (Xerox PARC). These discussions led to the development of the Alto prototype, which explored for the first time all the elements of the graphical user interface (GUI), and influenced the creation of user interfaces in the 1980s and beyond.[64]


Piaget’s theory, however vital in understanding child psychology, did not go without scrutiny. A main figure whose ideas contradicted Piaget’s ideas was the Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky. Vygotsky stressed the importance of a child’s cultural background as an effect to the stages of development. Because different cultures stress different social interactions, this challenged Piaget’s theory that the hierarchy of learning development had to develop in succession. Vygotsky introduced the term Zone of proximal development as an overall task a child would have to develop that would be too difficult to develop alone.

Also, the so-called neo-Piagetian theories of cognitive development maintained that Piaget’s theory does not do justice either to the underlying mechanisms of information processing that explain transition from stage to stage or individual differences in cognitive development. According to these theories, changes in information processing mechanisms, such as speed of processing and working memory, are responsible for ascension from stage to stage. Moreover, differences between individuals in these processes explain why some individuals develop faster than other individuals (Demetriou, 1998).

Over time, alternative theories of Child Development have been put forward, and empirical findings have done a lot to undermine Piaget’s theories. For example, Esther Thelen and colleagues[65] found that babies would not make the A-not-B error if they had small weights added to their arms during the first phase of the experiment that were then removed before the second phase of the experiment. This minor change should not impact babies’ understanding of object permanence, so the difference that this makes to babies’ performance on the A-not-B task cannot be explained by Piagetian theory. Thelen and colleagues also found that various other factors also influenced performance on the A-not-B task (including strength of memory trace, salience of targets, waiting time and stance), and proposed that this could be better explained using a dynamic systems theory approach than using Piagetian theory. Alison Gopnik and Betty Repacholi[66] found that babies as young as 18 months old can understand that other people have desires, and that these desires could be very different from their own desires. This strongly contradicts Piaget’s view that children are very egocentric at this age. In reaction to these challenges, it has been argued that their criticisms depend on a fundamental misreading of Piaget’s theory (Lourenço & Machado, 1996).

See also Brian Rotman‘s Jean Piaget: Psychologist of the Real, an exposition and critique of Piaget’s ideas, and Jonathan Tudge and Barbara Rogoff’s “Peer influences on cognitive development: Piagetian and Vygotskian perspectives”.[67]


  • “Intelligence organizes the world by organizing itself.”[68]

List of major achievements


Honorary doctorates

  • 1936 Harvard
  • 1946 Sorbonne
  • 1949 University of Brazil
  • 1949 Bruxelles
  • 1953 Chicago
  • 1954 McGill
  • 1958 Warsaw
  • 1959 Manchester
  • 1960 Oslo
  • 1960 Cambridge
  • 1962 Brandeis
  • 1964 Montreal
  • 1964 Aix-Marseille
  • 1966 Pennsylvania[69]
  • 1966? Barcelona[70]
  • 1970 Yale[71]

List of major works

The following groupings are based on the number of citations in Google Scholar.


  • The Language and Thought of the Child (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1926) [Le Langage et la pensée chez l’enfant (1923)]
  • The Child’s Conception of the World (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1928) [La Représentation du monde chez l’enfant (1926, orig. pub. as an article, 1925)]
  • The Moral Judgment of the Child (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner and Co., 1932) [Le jugement moral chez l’enfant (1932)]
  • The Origins of Intelligence in Children (New York: International University Press, 1952) [La naissance de l’intelligence chez l’enfant (1936), also translated as The Origin of Intelligence in the Child (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1953)].
  • Play, Dreams and Imitation in Childhood (New York: Norton, 1962) [La formation du symbole chez l’enfant; imitation, jeu et reve, image et représentation (1945)].
  • The Psychology of Intelligence (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1951) [La psychologie de l’intelligence (1947)].
  • The construction of reality in the child (New York: Basic Books, 1954) [La construction du réel chez l’enfant (1950), also translated as The Child’s Construction of Reality (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1955)].
  • With Inhelder, B., The Growth of Logical Thinking from Childhood to Adolescence (New York: Basic Books, 1958) [De la logique de l’enfant à la logique de l’adolescent (1955)].
  • With Inhelder, B., The Psychology of the Child (New York: Basic Books, 1962) [La psychologie de l’enfant (1966, orig. pub. as an article, 1950)].

Major works

  • The early growth of logic in the child (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1964) [La genèse des structures logiques elementaires (1959)].
  • With Inhelder, B., The Child’s Conception of Space (New York: W.W. Norton, 1967).
  • “Piaget’s theory” in P. Mussen (ed.), Handbook of Child Psychology, Vol. 1. (4th ed., New York: Wiley, 1983).
  • The Child’s Conception of Number (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1952) [La genèse du nombre chez l’enfant (1941)].
  • Structuralism (New York: Harper & Row, 1970) [Le Structuralisme (1968)].
  • Genetic epistemology (New York: W.W. Norton, 1971, ISBN 978-0-393-00596-7).

Significant works

  • The child’s conception of physical causality (London: Kegan Paul, 1930) [La causalite physique chez l’enfant (1927)]
  • Child’s Conception of Geometry (New York, Basic Books, 1960) [La Géométrie spontanée de l’enfant (1948)].
  • The Principles of Genetic Epistemology (New York: Basic Books, 1972, ISBN 978-0-393-00596-7) [L’épistémologie génétique (1950)].
  • To understand is to invent: The future of education (New York: Grossman Publishers, 1973) [tr. of Ou va l’education (1971) and Le droit a l’education dans le monde actuel (1948)].
  • Six psychological studies (New York: Random House, 1967) [Six études de psychologie (1964)].
  • Biology and Knowledge (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1971) [Biologie et connaissance; essai sur les relations entre les régulations organiques et les processus cognitifs (1967)]
  • Science of education and the psychology of the child (New York: Orion Press, 1970) [Psychologie et pédagogie (1969)].
  • Intellectual evolution from adolescence to adulthood (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1977) [L’evolution intellectuelle entre l’adolescence et l’age adulte (1970)].
  • The Equilibration of Cognitive Structures: The Central Problem of Intellectual Development (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985) [L’equilibration des structures cognitives (1975), previously translated as The development of thought: Equilibration of cognitive structures (1977)].
  • Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini (ed.), Language and learning: the debate between Jean Piaget and Noam Chomsky (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1980) [Theories du language, theories de l’apprentissage (1979)].
  • Development and learning.

Notable works

  • The Grasp of Consciousness: Action and concept in the young child (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1977) [La prise de conscience (1974)].
  • The Mechanisms of Perception (New York: Basic Books, 1969) [Les mécanismes perceptifs: modèles probabilistes, analyse génétique, relations avec l’intelligence (1961)].
  • Psychology and Epistemology: Towards a Theory of Knowledge (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1972) [Psychologie et epistémologie (1970).
  • The Child’s Conception of Time (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1969) [Le développement de la notion de temps chez l’enfant (1946)]
  • Logic and Psychology (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1953).
  • Memory and intelligence (New York: Basic Books, 1973) [Memoire et intelligence (1968)]
  • The Origin of the Idea of Chance in Children (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1975) [La genèse de l’idée de hasard chez l’enfant (1951)].
  • Mental imagery in the child: a study of the development of imaginal representation (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1971) [L’image mentale chez l’enfant : études sur le développement des représentations imaginées (1966)].
  • Intelligence and Affectivity. Their Relationship during Child Development (Palo Alto: Annual Reviews, 1981) [Les relations entre l’intelligence et l’affectivité dans le développement de l’enfant (1954)].
  • With Garcia, R. Psychogenesis and the History of Science (New York: Columbia University Press, 1989) [Psychogenèse et histoire des sciences (1983).
  • With Beth, E. W.,Mathematical Epistemology and Psychology (Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1966) [Épistémologie mathématique et psychologie: Essai sur les relations entre la logique formelle et la pensée réelle] (1961).

New translations

  • Piaget, J. (1995). Sociological Studies. London: Routledge.
  • Piaget, J. (2000). “Commentary on Vygotsky”. New Ideas in Psychology18: 241–59.
  • Piaget, J. (2001). Studies in Reflecting Abstraction. Hove, UK: Psychology Press.



  1. Jump up^ Susan Pass, Parallel Paths to Constructivism: Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky, Information Age Publishing, 2004, p. 74.
  2. Jump up^ Piaget, J. (1982). Reflections on Baldwin [interview with J. J. Vonèche]. In J. M. Broughton & D. J. Freeman-Moir (Eds.), The cognitive developmental psychology of James Mark Baldwin(pp. 80–86). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
  3. Jump up^ Inhelder, B. (1989). Bärbel Inhelder [Autobiography] (H. Sinclair & M. Sinclair, Trans.). In G. Lindzey (Ed.), A History of Psychology in Autobiography (Vol. VIII, pp. 208–243). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Tryphon, A., & Vonèche, J. J. (Eds.). (2001). Working with Piaget: Essays in honour of Bärbel Inhelder. Hove, East Sussex, UK: Psychology Press.
  4. Jump up^ Bruner, J. S. (1983). In search of mind: Essays in autobiography. New York: Harper & Row.
  5. Jump up^ Kohlberg, L. (1982). Moral development. In J. M. Broughton & D. J. Freeman-Moir (Eds.), The cognitive developmental psychology of James Mark Baldwin: Current theory and research in genetic epistemology (pp. 277–325). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
  6. Jump up^ Kegan, Robert (1994). In Over Our Heads (p. 29). Cambridge, MA: Harvasrd University Press.
  7. Jump up^ Gardner, H. (2008). “Wrestling with Jean Piaget, my paragon. What have you changed your mind about?” Retrieved 2016-10-17.
  8. Jump up^ Burman, J. T. (2007). “Piaget no “remedy” for Kuhn, but the two should be read together: Comment on Tsou’s “Piaget vs. Kuhn on scientific progress””. Theory & Psychology17 (5): 721–732. doi:10.1177/0959354307079306.
  9. Jump up^ Papert, S (March 29, 1999). “Child Psychologist: Jean Piaget”. Time153: 104–107.
  10. Jump up^ Piaget, J (1979). “Comments on Vygotsky’s critical remarks”. Archives de Psychologie47 (183): 237–249.
  11. Jump up^ Piaget, J (2000). “Commentary on Vygotsky’s criticisms of Language and Thought of the Child and Judgement and Reasoning in the Child (L. Smith, Trans.)”. New Ideas in Psychology18 (2–3): 241–259. doi:10.1016/s0732-118x(00)00012-x. (Original work published 1962.)
  12. Jump up^ “International Bureau of Education – Directors” Munari, Alberto (1994). “JEAN PIAGET (1896–1980)” (PDF). Prospects: the quarterly review of comparative educationXXIV (1/2): 311–327. doi:10.1007/bf02199023.
  13. Jump up^ “Jean Piaget Society – About Piaget”. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  14. Jump up^ Burman, J. T. (2012). “Jean Piaget: Images of a life and his factory”. History of Psychology15 (3): 283–288. ISSN 1093-4510doi:10.1037/a0025930.
  15. Jump up^ von Glasersfeld, E. (1990). “An exposition of constructivism: Why some like it radical”. Journal for Research In Mathematics Education – Monograph4: 19–29 & 195–210 [22]. ISSN 0883-9530JSTOR 749910doi:10.2307/749910. (p. 22).
  16. Jump up^ Hsueh, Y (2009). “Piaget in the United States, 1925–1971. In U. Müller, J. I. M. Carpendale & L. Smith (Eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Piaget (pp. 344–370). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Müller, U., Burman, J. T., & Hutchinson, S. (2013). The developmental psychology of Jean Piaget: A quinquagenary retrospective”. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology34 (1): 52–55. doi:10.1016/j.appdev.2012.10.001.
  17. Jump up^ Pickren, W. E. (2012). Joseph McVicker Hunt: Golden age psychologist. In W. E. Pickren, D. A. Dewsbury, & M. Wertheimer (Eds.), Portraits of pioneers in developmental psychology (pp. 185–203). New York: Psychology Press/Taylor & Francis.
  18. Jump up^ Haggbloom, Steven J.; Warnick, Jason E.; Jones, Vinessa K.; Yarbrough, Gary L.; Russell, Tenea M.; Borecky, Chris M.; McGahhey, Reagan; et al. (2002). “The 100 most eminent psychologists of the 20th century”Review of General Psychology6 (2): 139–152. doi:10.1037/1089-2680.6.2.139.
  19. Jump up^ “Jean Piaget”, Biography. Accessed 28 February 2012
  20. Jump up^ A Brief Biography of Jean Piaget, Jean Piaget Society (Society for the study of knowledge and development)
  21. Jump up^ Harvard Graduate School of Education, Susan Mayer (21 October 2005). “A Brief Biography of Jean Piaget” (PDF).
  22. Jump up^ Voyat, G. (1981). “Jean Piaget: 1896-1980”.The American Journal of Psychology, 94(4), pp. 645–648.
  23. Jump up^ American Psychologist volume 25. (Jan 1970) pg.66
  24. Jump up^ Verne N. Rockcastle (1964, p. xi), the conference director, wrote in the conference report of the Jean Piaget conferences about Piaget: “Although few of us had any personal contact with Piaget prior to the conference, those who attended came to have the deepest and warmest regard for him both as a scientist and as a person. His sense of humor throughout the conference was a sort of international glue that flavored his lectures and punctuated his informal conversation. To sit at the table with him during a meal was not only an intellectual pleasure but a pure social delight. Piaget was completely unsophisticated in spite of his international stature. We could hardly believe it when he came prepared for two weeks’ stay with only his ‘serviette’ and a small Swissair bag. An American would have hat at least two large suitcases. When Piaget left Berkeley, he had his serviette, the small Swissair bag, and a third, larger bag crammed with botanical specimens. ‘Where did you get that bag?’ we asked. ‘I had it in one of the others,’ he replied.”
  25. Jump up^ Burman, J. T. (2013). Profiles of international archives: Les Archives Jean Piaget, University of Geneva, Switzerland. History of Psychology, 16(2), 158–161. doi: 10.1037/a0031405. A full-color photo of his grave is available online, open access, courtesy of the American Psychological Association.[1]
  26. Jump up^ Beilin, H. (1992). “Piaget’s enduring contribution to developmental psychology”. Developmental Psychology28 (2): 191–204. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.28.2.191.
  27. Jump up^ Burman, J. T. (2011). “The zeroeth Piaget”. Theory & Psychology21 (1): 130–135. doi:10.1177/0959354310361407.
  28. Jump up^ Mayer, Susan (2005). “The Early Evolution of Jean Piaget’s Clinical Method”. History of Psychology.
  29. Jump up^ Hsueh, Y. (2001). Basing much of the reasoning upon the work of Jean Piaget, 1927–1936. Archives de Psychologie, 69(268–269), 39–62; Hsueh, Y. (2002). The Hawthorne Experiments and the introduction of Jean Piaget in American Industrial Psychology, 1929–1932. History of Psychology, 5(2), 163–189. doi:10.1037/1093-4510.5.2.163
  30. Jump up^ Hsueh, Y (2004). “He sees the development of children’s concepts upon a background of sociology”: Jean Piaget’s honorary degree at Harvard University in 1936″. History of Psychology7 (1): 20–44. doi:10.1037/1093-4510.7.1.20.
  31. Jump up to:a b Ormrod, J.E. (2012). Essentials of Educational Psychology: Big Ideas to Guide Effective Teaching. Boston, MA: Pearson Education Inc.
  32. Jump up^ Hsueh, Y. (2005). The lost and found experience: Piaget rediscovered. The Constructivist, 16(1). [2]
  33. Jump up^ Guthrie, James W. “Piaget, Jean (1896–1980).” Encyclopedia of Education. 2nd ed. Vol. 5. New York, NY: Macmillan Reference USA, 2003. 1894-898.
  34. Jump up^ “Piaget, Jean.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 3 November 2008
  35. Jump up^ Valsiner, J. (2005). “Participating in Piaget”. Society42 (2): 57–61. doi:10.1007/BF02687400.
  36. Jump up^ Howard Gardner, The Quest for Mind: Piaget, Levi-Strauss and the Structuralist Movement, University of Chicago Press, 1981.
  37. Jump up^ Beilin Harry (1992). “Piaget’s Enduring Contribution to Developmental Psychology”American Psychological Association28 (2): 191–204. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.28.2.191.
  38. Jump up^ Santrock, John W. Children. 9. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 1998.
  39. Jump up^ K. Kaye, The Mental and Social Life of Babies. U. Chicago Press, 1982.
  40. Jump up to:a b c Santrock, John W. (2004). Life-Span Development (9th Ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill College – Chapter 8
  41. Jump up^ Patrica H. Miller Theories of Developmental Psychology 5th Edition, Worth Publishers 2009
  42. Jump up^ Michael W. Eysenck, & Mark. T Keane. (2010). Cognitive Psychology: A Student’s Handbook, (6th.). East Sussex: Psychology Press. Retrieved from
  43. Jump up^ Naested, I., Potvin, B., & Waldron, P. (2004). Understanding the landscape of teaching. Toronto, Ontario: Pearson Education Canada.
  44. Jump up^ Shaffer, D. R., Wood, E., & Willoughby, T. (2005). Developmental psychology: Childhood and adolescence. Toronto, Ontario: Nelson Education Canada.
  45. Jump up^ Piaget, J. (1953). The origin of intelligence in the child. New Fetter Lane, New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
  46. Jump up to:a b c Auger, W. F., & Rich, S. J. (2007). Curriculum theory and methods: Perspectives on learning and teaching. Mississauga, Ontario: John Wiley & Sons Canada.
  47. Jump up^ Gallagher, J. M., & Reid, D. K. (1981). The learning theory of Piaget and Inhelder. Austin, Texas: Pro-Ed.
  48. Jump up^ Siegel, L. S. (1993). Amazing new discovery: Piaget was wrong! Canadian Psychology, 34(3): 234–249.
  49. Jump up^ “41st Annual Meeting of The Jean Piaget Society” (PDF). Piaget.prg. 2011-06-02. Retrieved 2016-10-17.
  50. Jump up to:a b c Henson, Kenneth (2003). “Foundations for Learner-Centered Education: A Knowledge Base”. Education1124 (1): 5–16.
  51. Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i Seifert, Kelvin; Sutton, Rosemary (2009). Educational Psychology (PDF) (2nd ed.). Florida: Orange Grove. ISBN 978-1616101541. Retrieved June 22, 2015.
  52. Jump up^ Hawkins, Shannon M.; Heflin, L. Juane (2001). “Increasing Secondary Teachers’ Behavior-Specific Praise Using a Video Self-Modeling and Visual Performance Feedback Intervention”. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions12 (2): 97–108. doi:10.1177/1098300709358110.
  53. Jump up to:a b c Piaget, J. (1964). Development and learning. In R.E. Ripple a& V.N. Rockcastle (Eds.), Piaget Rediscovered: A Report on the Conference of Cognitive Studies and Curriculum Development (pp. 7–20). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University.
  54. Jump up^ Griffin, S.A. (2004). “Building number sense with Number Worlds: a mathematics program for young children”. Early Childhood Research Quarterly19: 173–180. doi:10.1016/j.ecresq.2004.01.012.
  55. Jump up^ Barnes, Michael Horace (2000). Stages of thought: the co-evolution of religious thought and science. Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-513389-7.
  56. Jump up^ Damerow, P. (1998). “Prehistory And Cognitive Development”Piaget, Evolution, and Development. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-8058-2210-6. Retrieved 24 March 2008.
  57. Jump up^ Kieran Egan (1997). The educated mind: How Cognitive Tools Shape Our Understanding. Chicago: University of Chicago PressISBN 0-226-19036-6.
  58. Jump up^ Gablik, Suzi (1977). Progress in art. New York: Rizzoli. ISBN 0-8478-0082-2.
  59. Jump up^ LePan, Don (1989). The cognitive revolution in Western culture. New York: Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-45796-X.
  60. Jump up^ Radding, Charles (1985). A world made by men: cognition and society, 400–1200. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 0-8078-1664-7.
  61. Jump up^ McKinney, Michael L.; Parker, Sue Taylor (1999). Origins of intelligence: the evolution of cognitive development in monkeys, apes, and humans. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-6012-1.
  62. Jump up^ Burman, J. T. (2007). “Piaget No ‘Remedy’ for Kuhn, But the Two Should be Read Together: Comment on Tsou’s ‘Piaget vs. Kuhn on Scientific Progress'”. Theory & Psychology17 (5): 721–732. doi:10.1177/0959354307079306.
  63. Jump up^ Burman, J. T. (2008). “Experimenting in relation to Piaget: Education is a chaperoned process of adaptation”. Perspectives on Science16 (2): 160–195. doi:10.1162/posc.2008.16.2.160.
  64. Jump up^ Drescher, Gary (1991). Made-Up Minds: A Constructivist Approach to Artificial Intelligence. Boston: MIT Press. p. 236. ISBN 978-0-262-04120-1.
  65. Jump up^ Spencer, J. P.; Clearfield, M.; Corbetta, D.; Ulrich, B.; Buchanan, P.; Schöner, G. (2006). “Moving Toward a Grand Theory of Development: In Memory of Esther Thelen”. Child Development77 (6): 1521–1538. PMID 17107442doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2006.00955.x.
  66. Jump up^ Repacholi, Betty; Alison Gopnik (1997). “Early reasoning about desires: Evidence from 14- and 18-month-olds”Developmental Psychology3: 12–21. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.33.1.12. Retrieved 29 October 2011.
  67. Jump up^ Tudge, Jonathan; Barbara Rogoff (1998). “Peer influences on cognitive development: Piagetian and Vygotskian perspectives”. In Peter Lloyd; Charles Fernyhough. Lev Vygotsky: Critical Assessments, Volume 3. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-11154-6.
  68. Jump up^ Jean Piaget, The Construction of Reality in the Child (1954 [1937]), pp. 354–5.
  69. Jump up^ The list is certain only to 1966. The source is p. xviii of F. Bresson & M. de Montmollin, 1966, Psychologie et épistémologie génétique: thèmes Piagétiens (Hommage à Jean Piaget avec une bibliographie complète de ses oeuvres). Paris: Dunod. (Note: This list provides “Varsovie” instead of Warsaw, as this is the French name for the capital of Poland.)
  70. Jump up^ Reported in 1971, in Anuario de psicología, as part of the proceedings of a celebration of Piaget’s 70th birthday,
  71. Jump up^ Kessen, W (1996). “American Psychology just before Piaget”. Psychological Science7 (4): 196–199. JSTOR 40062944doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.1996.tb00358.x.


  • Aqueci, F. (2003). Ordine e trasformazione: morale, mente, discorso in Piaget. Acireale-Roma: Bonanno. ISBN 88-7796-148-1.
  • Amann-Gainotti, M.; Ducret, J.-J. (1992). “Jean Piaget, disciple of Pierre Janet: Influence of behavior psychology and relations with psychoanalysis”. Information Psychiatrique68: 598–606.
  • Beilin, H. (1992). “Piaget’s enduring contribution to developmental psychology”. Developmental Psychology28 (2): 191–204. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.28.2.191.
  • Beilin, H. (1994). Jean Piaget’s enduring contribution to developmental psychology. A century of developmental psychology (pp. 257–290). Washington, DC US: American Psychological Association.
  • Bringuier, J.-C. (1980). Conversations with Jean Piaget (B.M. Gulati, Trans.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (Original work published 1977) ISBN 0-226-07503-6.
  • Chapman, M. (1988). Constructive evolution: Origins and development of Piaget’s thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-36712-3.
  • Commons, M. L.; Goodheart, E. A.; Pekker, A.; Dawson, T.L.; Draney, K.; Adams, K. M. (2008). “Using Rasch Scaled Stage Scores To Validate Orders of Hierarchical Complexity of Balance Beam Task Sequences”. Journal of Applied Measurement9 (2): 182–99. PMID 18480514.
  • Demetriou, A. (1998). Cognitive development. In A. Demetriou, W. Doise, K. F. M. van Lieshout (Eds.), Life-span developmental psychology(pp. 179–269). London: Wiley.
  • Demetriou, A., Mouyi, A., & Spanoudis, G. (2010). The development of mental processing. Nesselroade, J. R. (2010). Methods in the study of life-span human development: Issues and answers. In W. F. Overton (Ed.), Biology, cognition and methods across the life-span. Volume 1 of the Handbook of life-span development (pp. 36–55), Editor-in-chief: R. M. Lerner. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
  • Duveen, G. & Psaltis, C. (2008). The constructive role of asymmetries in social interaction. In U. Mueller, J. I. M. Carpendale, N. Budwig & B. Sokol (Eds.), Social life and social knowledge: Toward a process account of development. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  • Flavell, J. (1967). The developmental psychology of Jean Piaget. New York: D. Van Nostrand Company. ISBN 0-442-02413-4.
  • Fowler, J. W. (1981). Stages of faith: The psychology of human development and the quest for meaning. San Francisco: Harper & Row. ISBN 0-06-062866-9.
  • Gattico, E. (2001). Jean Piaget. Milano: Bruno Mondadori. ISBN 88-424-9741-X.
  • Hallpike, C.R. (1979). The foundations of primitive thought. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-823196-2.
  • Ivey, A. (1986). Developmental therapy. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. ISBN 1-55542-022-2.
  • Kamii, C. (1985). Young children reinvent arithmetic: Implications of Piaget’s theory. New York: Teachers College Press.
  • Kesselring, T. (1999). Jean Piaget. München: Beck. ISBN 3-406-44512-8.
  • Kassotakis, M. & Flouris, G. (2006) Μάθηση & Διδασκαλία, Αthens.
  • Kitchener, R. (1986). Piaget’s theory of knowledge: Genetic epistemology & scientific reason. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-03579-9.
  • Kose, G. (1987). “A philosopher’s conception of Piaget: Piagetian theory reconsidered”. Theoretical & Philosophical Psychology7 (1): 52–57. doi:10.1037/h0091442.
  • Lourenço, O.; Machado, A. (1996). “In defense of Piaget’s theory: A reply to ten common criticisms”. Psychological Review103 (1): 143–164. doi:10.1037/0033-295X.103.1.143. CUNY pdf
  • Mayer, S. (2005). “The early evolution of Jean Piaget’s clinical method”. History of Psychology8 (4): 362–382. PMID 17152748doi:10.1037/1093-4510.8.4.362.
  • Messerly, J.G. (1992). Piaget’s conception of evolution: Beyond Darwin and Lamarck. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 0-8476-8243-9.
  • Phillips, John L. (1969). The Origin of Intellect: Piaget’s Theory. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman. ISBN 0-7167-0579-6.
  • Psaltis, C.; Duveen, G. (2006). “Social relations and cognitive development: The influence of conversation type and representations of gender”. European Journal of Social Psychology36 (3): 407–430. doi:10.1002/ejsp.308.
  • Psaltis, C.; Duveen, G. (2007). “Conversation types and conservation: Forms of recognition and cognitive development”. British Journal of Developmental Psychology25 (1): 79–102. doi:10.1348/026151005X91415.
  • Ripple, R.E., & Rockcastle, V.N. (Eds.) (1964). Piaget rediscovered. A report of the conference on cognitive studies and curriculum development. Cornell University: School of Education.
  • Robinson, R.J. (2005). The birth of reason. Prometheus Research Group. (Available online at
  • Smith, L. (Ed.) (1992). Jean Piaget: Critical assessments (4 Vols.). London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-04408-1.
  • Smith, L. (1993). Necessary knowledge: Piagetian perspectives on constructivism. Hove, UK: Lawrence Erlbaum. ISBN 0-86377-270-6.
  • Smith, L. (Ed.) (1996). Critical readings on Piaget. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-13317-3.
  • Smith, L. (2001). Jean Piaget. In J. A. Palmer (Ed.), 50 modern thinkers on education: From Piaget to the present. London: Routledge.
  • Traill, R.R. (2000) Physics and Philosophy of the Mind. Melbourne: Ondwelle. ISBN 0-9577737-1-4
  • Traill, R.R. (2005a) …….. . Melbourne: Ondwelle.
  • Traill, R.R. (2005b / 2008) Thinking by Molecule, Synapse, or both? — From Piaget’s Schema, to the Selecting/Editing of ncRNA. Melbourne: Ondwelle. [Also in French:
  • Vidal, F. (1994). Piaget before Piaget. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-66716-6.
  • Vonèche, J.J. (1985). Genetic epistemology: Piaget’s theory. In T. Husén & T.N. Postlethwaite (Eds.-in-chief), International encyclopedia of education (Vol. 4). Oxford: Pergamon.
  • Wynn, T. (1979). “The intelligence of later Acheulean hominids”. Man (ns)14: 371–391. doi:10.2307/2801865.
  • Wynn, T. (1981). “The intelligence of Oldowan hominids”. Journal of Human Evolution10 (7): 529–541. doi:10.1016/S0047-2484(81)80046-2.

Further reading

Piaget inspired innumerable studies and even new areas of inquiry. The following is a list of critiques and commentaries, organized using the same citation-based method as the list of his own major works (above). These represent the significant and influential post-Piagetian writings in their respective sub-disciplines.


  • Vygotsky, L. (1963). Thought and language. [12630 citations]


Major works

  • Bates, E. (1976). Language and context: The acquisition of pragmatics. [959]
  • Ginsburg, H. P. & Opper, S. (1969). Piaget’s theory of intellectual development. [931]
  • Singley, M. K. & Anderson, J. R. (1989). The transfer of cognitive skill. [836]
  • Duckworth, E. (1973). The having of wonderful ideas. [775]
  • Youniss, J. (1982). Parents and peers in social development: A Sullivan-Piaget perspective. [763]
  • Pascual-Leone, J. (1970). A mathematical model for the transition rule in Piaget’s developmental stages. [563]
  • Schaffer, H. R. & Emerson, P. E. (1964). The development of social attachments in infancy. [535]

Works of significance

  • Shatz, M.; Gelman, R. (1973). “The Development of Communication Skills: Modifications in the Speech of Young Children as a Function of Listener”. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development38 (5): 1–37. doi:10.2307/1165783. [470]
  • Broke, H (1971). “Interpersonal perception of young children: Egocentrism or Empathy?”. Developmental Psychology5 (2): 263–269. doi:10.1037/h0031267. [469]
  • Wadsworth, B. J. (1989). Piaget’s theory of cognitive and affective development [421]
  • Karmiloff-Smith, A. (1992). Beyond Modularity. [419]
  • Bodner, G. M. (1986). Constructivism: A theory of knowledge. [403]
  • Shantz, C. U. (1975). The Development of Social Cognition. [387]
  • Diamond, A.Goldman-Rakic, P. S. (1989). “Comparison of human infants and rhesus monkeys on Piaget’s AB task: evidence for dependence on dorsolateral prefrontal cortex”. Experimental Brain Research74 (1): 24–40. doi:10.1007/bf00248277. [370]
  • Gruber, H. & Voneche, H. (1982). The Essential Piaget. [348]
  • Walkerdine, V. (1984). Developmental psychology and the child-centred pedagogy: The insertion of Piaget into early education. [338]
  • Kamii, C. & DeClark, G. (1985). Young children reinvent arithmetic: Implications of Piaget’s theory [335]
  • Riegel, K. F. (1973). Dialectic operations: The final period of cognitive development [316]
  • Bandura, A.; McDonald, F. J. (1963). “Influence of social reinforcement and the behavior of models in shaping children’s moral judgment”. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology67 (3): 274–281. doi:10.1037/h0044714. [314]
  • Karplus, R. (1980). Teaching for the development of reasoning. [312]
  • Brainerd, C. (1978). The stage question in cognitive-developmental theory. [311]
  • Brainerd, C. (1978). Piaget’s theory of intelligence. [292]
  • Gilligan, C. (1997). Moral orientation and moral development [285]
  • Diamond, A. (1991). Neuropsychological insights into the meaning of object concept development [284]
  • Braine, M. D. S., & Rumain, B. (1983). Logical reasoning. [276]
  • John-Steiner, V. (2000). Creative collaboration. [266]
  • Pascual-Leone, J. (1987). Organismic processes for neo-Piagetian theories: A dialectical causal account of cognitive development. [261]
  • Hallpike, C. R. (1979). The foundations of primitive thought [261]
  • Furth, H. (1969). Piaget and Knowledge [261]
  • Gelman, R. & Baillargeon, R. (1983). A review of some Piagetian concepts. [260]
  • O’Loughlin, M. (1992). Rethinking science education: Beyond piagetian constructivism. Toward a sociocultural model of teaching and learning. [252]
  • Messerly, John G. (1996). “Psychogenesis and the History of Science: Piaget and the Problem of Scientific Change”, The Modern Schoolman LXXIII, 295-307.

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